SA's existing power plants need to perform more predictably - Mantashe

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has acknowledged that the rolling power cuts had returned with a vengeance, causing further disruptions for an economy that was still recovering from COVID-19 related lockdowns.

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe at a media briefing on the coronavirus on 25 March 2020 in Pretoria. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said that the immediate solution to the country’s electricity challenges was in getting existing plants to perform more “predictably”.

The minister has unveiled the names of 25 independent power producers who will provide additional electricity to support Eskom’s power crisis and alleviate supply constraints.

Mantashe's announcement comes as Eskom has been battling with power cuts, as more of the company's infrastructure deteriorates.

South Africa has been brought to its knees by consistent blackouts.

Announcing the outcome of the bid window five procurement, Minister Mantashe said that the programme aimed to procure a total of 2,600 megawatts from both solar and wind energy which would be added to the power grid.

"Which includes 1,600 megawatts from offshore wind and 1,000 megawatts from solar PV plants," Mantashe said.

Mantashe has acknowledged that the rolling power cuts had returned with a vengeance, causing further disruptions for an economy that was still recovering from COVID-19 related lockdowns.

"The load shedding that we're having is not because of less connected capacity, it is the unavailability of generation capacity, which means that we're not efficient in running existing capacity."

Mantashe said that the preferred bidder projects would inject about R50 billion into the South African economy and create about 13,000 job opportunities.

The minister said that a large section of the 25 independent power producers approved to produce energy were South African-owned.

He said that this was also a boost for black-owned businesses.

"A total of 34% shareholding by black people in IPPs was achieved against a target of 30%, so the deal not only requires participation by black South Africans at the project level but also requires participation across the entire renewable energy value chain."

Additional reporting by Ray White.

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