South Africa’s Public Utility Commits to Producing Renewable Energy

South Africa depends heavily on coal for its electricity generation and is among the highest GHG emitters in the world. Over the last decade, South Africa has faced major electricity challenges, such as load shedding, which has become part of everyday life in the country. It is estimated that Stage 6 load shedding removed up to 6000 MW from the grid, costing the country more than R4 billion per day.

On 25 July 2022, the South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced a that set of government interventions would be in order to overcome the electricity crisis. Eskom, the South African public electricity utility, has made land available near its power stations in the Mpumalanga province to allow 1800 MW of electricity to be generated from renewable energy projects. Eskom will also build its first solar and battery storage units at various power stations including Komati, Majuba, and Lethabo, which will allow more than 500 MW of electricity to be added to the grid.

South Africa also runs the Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) in which the private sector can bid and generate and sell electricity to Eskom. The President has announced that the generation capacity from wind and solar from the REIPPP Bid Window 6 will increase by 100%, from 2600 MW to 5200 MW.

Eskom will also develop a feed-in tariff that will act as an incentive for people to install solar panels on the roof of their residential or commercial buildings. Any additional power that is generated but not consumed can be sold to Eskom as these solar systems will be connected to Eskom’s grid.

The government will use the funding from the Just Energy Transition Partnership for some of these interventions. The Just Energy Transition Partnership was launched at COP26 in November 2021 and is a collaboration with the US, EU, and the UK to support South Africa’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

These interventions will allow South Africa’s GHG emissions to decrease in the future. However, for these interventions to be successful, it is crucial that proper planning, management, maintenance, and budgeting are done. The country has already witnessed how mismanagement, design flaws, and corruption have affected the construction and operation of the Medupi and Kusile power stations. The same mistakes cannot be repeated.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Africa Country Manager Deepti Charitar

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