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Virus leaves SA’s green energy plans in disarray

“Post the lockdown, Eskom expects demand for electricity to rise to more or less the same levels” as before, the utility said.
Image: Shutterstock

Independent energy producers were finally making headway in their bid to persuade South Africa’s government to revive long-stalled plans to buy more renewable power when they encountered a new obstacle: the coronavirus.

A five-week shutdown that was imposed in a bid to curb the spread of the disease has sent electricity usage through the floor and left Eskom, which supplies about 95% of the nation’s power, with excess capacity. Economic growth and energy demand are likely to remain muted for several years, casting doubts over when additional plants will be needed.

Eskom, which was previously forced to implement rolling blackouts because its aging plants couldn’t deliver sufficient output, has already declared force majeure with wind-energy producers because it doesn’t need their output. And the government which pledged as recently as February to seek new bids from renewable suppliers has gone to ground on when that will happen.

Eskom’s decision to renege on its contracts “really undermines the confidence and the trust that investors have” in the government’s commitment to source additional renewable energy, said Paul Semple, joint head of unlisted credit at Futuregrowth Asset Management, the country’s biggest specialist bond fund manager.

Funding Costs

Investments in renewables projects are based on 20-year returns, and if those don’t materialise as anticipated, the cost of funding for future projects will go up, according to Semple. Futuregrowth’s Power Debt Fund has invested more than R8 billion ($428 million) in energy-related projects in South Africa.

The South African Wind Energy Association is banking on the government implementing its approved energy blueprint that determines the generating capacity it will buy over the next decade, according to Ntombifuthi Ntuli, its chief executive officer. She also expects President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration to formulate a plan to counteract the economic effects of the pandemic that will promote private generation.

“We are expecting that wind energy and other renewables will be part of that stimulus package, since it is infrastructure investment that government does not have to put capital investment in,” she said. “Energy security will be a big part of helping the economy get back on track.”

South Africa’s power demand has plummeted by as much as 9 000 megawatts since the lockdown came into effect on March 27. Just days earlier, Eskom had issued a request for proposals to supply it with emergency power, with submissions due to close on April 30.

“Post the lockdown, Eskom expects demand for electricity to rise to more or less the same levels” as before, the utility said. “That means there will still be a need for increased independent power producer contribution into the grid.”

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy didn’t immediately reply to emailed questions about when the next bid round for renewable projects will go ahead.

© 2020 Bloomberg

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Independent energy producers were finally making headway in their bid to persuade South Africa’s government to revive long-stalled plans to buy more renewable power when they encountered a new obstacle: the coronavirus. – NO THEY WEREN’T – Government has dragged there feet on this matter since the beginning of time. There was never any concern by government about the amount of money that investors in green energy have been losing while government dragged there feet. All of this in an attempt to further rape and plunder the national energy supplier till there was nothing left but an empty shell.
Eskom’s decision to renege on its contracts “really undermines the confidence and the trust that investors have” in the government’s commitment to source additional renewable energy, said Paul Semple, joint head of unlisted credit at Futuregrowth Asset Management, the country’s biggest specialist bond fund manager. – AND THIS IS WHY NOBODY TRUSTS THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT. One can see the same process being applied to the digital broadcasting debacle and many more other examples too.
The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy didn’t immediately reply to emailed questions about when the next bid round for renewable projects will go ahead. – DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR THIS EITHER.

Don’t discard green energy just yet!

It will have to power 100% of SA’ elec requirements (being the tiny economy what will be left…shadow of its current self) as like SAA, the one SOE after the other will become unaffordable…so the last in line will be Eskom.

Eskom as an SOE will die off. (as the pool of tax collections for the state will get smaller, as the econ shrinks, but state expenditure rises due to inefficiencies.)

(…Eskom will last until after most of SA’s pensions has been depleted, then money-printing a la Zim is all what will be left..Why should SA be different?)

And then oil prses dropped,
just to liquidate any “green” business cases for the foreseeable future…

Oil will go up again once the worldwide lockdown ends and Russia/OPEC end their spat, and worldwide production and transport resuscitate. And electricity usage WILL go up again. The resources that can supply daily energy load at lowest prices are now PV and wind-power. In order for SA to grow economically and have new factories established here, we will need MORE power than we had before, not less. Eskom can still supply baseload power and, I for one believe that under de Ruyter, it will remain active in the future. But not the 95% supplier of SA’s electricity.

End of comments.

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