SA plans to overhaul power grid to stem shortages – Eskom

Power utility to spend R6bn this year on project.

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa will spend 213 billion rand ($16 billion) to strengthen its transmission grid over the next decade as it seeks to end power shortages that are slowing growth inAfrica’s most advanced economy, utility Eskom said on Friday.

“The total transmission capital plan amounts to 213 billion rand over the … period 2016-2025,” an Eskompresentation said.

Leslie Naidoo, Eskom’s senior manager for infrastructure investment planning, said at a technical briefing on the utility’s grid plans that sourcing the funding would be “a huge challenge”.

Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe said 6 billion rand would be spent this year on transmission asEskom scrambles to keep the lights on and ease investor concerns about the power situation.

Overall, Eskom is spending 60 billion rand a year on improving electricity infrastructure, Molefe said, while presenting the ten year plan to build 10,000 kilometres of high voltage power lines.

Molefe said that while Eskom faced a funding gap of 280 billion rand, which has delayed transmission upgrades by seven years, he was “optimistic” about securing the necessary funds.

For much of this year, Eskom had to resort to periodic rolling power cuts to prevent the grid from collapsing, a state of affairs that contributed to a 1.3 percent contraction in the economy in the second quarter.

The system remains constrained but over the past two months power cuts have only been imposed for two hours and 20 minutes.

Eskom expects to have 53,600 megawatts (MW) on the grid by 2025 compared with close to 45,000 MW at present.

($1 = 13.15 rand) 

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