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Why load shedding is set to continue for the next five years

The decreasing performance of the existing Eskom plants is evident in the steady decline of the energy availability factor.
For now, only those who can afford it will be able to escape the power cuts. Shutterstock/ Arnold Petersen

South Africa is once more experiencing periodic power cuts. These typically take the form of scheduled supply interruptions, for two to four hours a day, whenever the country’s electricity system is overloaded. Such overloading currently happens on 40-50 days a year.

Eskom, the country’s power utility, recently admitted that such interruptions are likely to persist for as long as the next five years. This is because of the increased down-time of the rapidly ageing fleet of coal plants. But it is also due to delays in setting up new power plants.

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The decreasing performance of the existing Eskom plants is evident in the steady decline of the energy availability factor. This is a measure of the percentage of total electricity generated compared to what would be achieved when every plant was functioning. The energy availability factor is currently at about 65%. This means that on average 35% of Eskom’s power plants are standing idle at any particular time due to faults or maintenance.

In his 2021 State of the Nation Address President Cyril Ramaphosa offered an action plan to develop additional power generation capacity in the short to medium term. While these interventions are indeed critical, they don’t go far enough to reach power stability.

Emergency power provision

The government has since announced eight successful bidders for gas, wind and solar projects under the 2,000 megawatt Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme. In theory, bidders are required to be able to generate electricity by August 2022. But given that solar and wind farms typically take two years to become operational, the stipulated roll-out time is too short. Most of these projects will only be supplying the grid in 2023.

The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme is a mechanism initiated 10 years ago under which private developers competitively bid for the rights to construct new electricity generating plants and then sell the electricity to Eskom at predetermined rates.

The programme successfully established South Africa’s renewable energy sector through three bid windows. But it stalled after 2015 when these new technologies began to threaten the interests of politically well connected interest groups in the coal and nuclear sectors. Projects for a fourth bid window finally received clearance in 2018 following the departure of former president Jacob Zuma, but enthusiasm for renewables has waned again under the current Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe.

The long awaited fifth round has just been announced after inexplicable delays. Prospective solar and wind farm developers have until August 2021 to submit bids for projects generating in total 1 600 MW of wind and 1 000 MW of solar capacity.

The successful bidders may be announced before the end of the year, but will need to demonstrate financial closure before starting to construct facilities. Renewable builds typically take about two years to complete. This means the round 5 projects are likely to come into operation only in 2024. That is two years later than set out by the 2019 national electricity plan.

The 2,600 MW added to the system in round 5 are with intermittent technologies. They only function when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. They will therefore only be adding, on average, slightly under 1 000 MW. That’s too little to overcome the existing power deficit.

Future procurement rounds

The last (2019) instalment of the South African Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity envisaged between 1,600 MW and 2,600 MW of renewable capacity added to the grid almost every year from 2022 to 2030. With the existing delay, the process to effect upcoming annual additions must be accelerated.

But an early catch-up is unlikely, because the minister only committed to one further renewables round, of the same scale, “within the next 12 months”. It’s therefore expected that future rounds will only happen annually, with no more that 2,600 MW being rolled out each time.

At that rate the wind and solar power contributions to South Africa’s electricity will remain below 10% of the national total for several more years. Renewables won’t make a decisive impact to alleviate the country’s power shortage for at least five years.

More gas, coal and nuclear?

In addition to the emergency and new renewable rounds, Minister Mantashe has also announced that procurement for 1 500 MW of new coal plants and 3,000 MW of gas plants will begin soon.

In view of their role in global warming, sentiment against new coal plants is now so strong that investment in such projects is extremely unlikely. Nuclear plants are not seen favourably globally either because of their high building costs and a reputation for severe construction delays. Gas is viewed as more attractive, but is an expensive energy source that is mainly envisaged as a backup for emergency situations.

None of these technologies offer rapid solutions.The small-scale option

It’s not expected that sufficient alternative power sources will be operational until about 2026. Power cuts look set to stay for the coming years.

On the positive side, this is likely to act as a catalyst for growth in small to medium scale solar installations. These may take the form of domestic rooftop installations or even mini power plants on the roofs of shopping malls or adjacent to mines and industrial plants. Municipalities will also soon be able to set up their local power generation facilities.

So some may escape the power cuts earlier – but investment in such solutions is only for those who can afford it.The Conversation

Hartmut Winkler, Professor of Physics, University of Johannesburg

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.


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It’s amazing how ANC mimisters are prepared to sacrifice the whole country fo the sake of looting.

Sacrificing the entire country for the sake of looting is standard operating procedure for the ruling cabal of felons.

Nothing that we didn’t know in 1994

The introduction of BEE legislation in the early 2000s just made it legal to compel that looting and sacrifice and the legislation compelling that has progressively become worse since then.

Loadshedding definitely wont be gone in 5 years. It’s here permanently.

One can’t blame ageing power plants, they have nothing to do with it. Blame those that was supposed to maintain these plants and those who were supposed to built new plants. And who might that be? One can only guess!

Moneyweb, I find it very frustrating that EVERY comment of mine is held for Moderation. Can you shed some light on this please?

It took about 34 hours to release my comments. You might as well have deleted them.

Loadshedding will become ever more severe as this government is incapable of creating a sustainable long term plan for things as important as electrical power generation.
Without a realistic, affordable and scientifically sound plan the building of the generation units will not happen and the country will lurch ever more to band aid “power ship” solutions.

It appears to have filtered down the system of things..
Diary Entry : Easter Sunday, 2021
Today we are at home waiting. We are waiting for City Power. Yesterday we were doing the same thing. Progress so far, despite the attendance of two pairs of technicians, is non-existent.
There is no plan in sight to restore power as yet.
Yesterday, when we realized that it was not another load shedding event or general fault, we made two reports of no power. One via the fault reporting telephone line and another one via the website.
Some hours later, following an SMS response from the website, we came to realise that both reports had been cancelled. The SMS response from the website gave a link to a message on a website page that gave the status as cancelled. No reason.
The phone call we made was to ask why that report was cancelled. Then came the stunning disclosure that both reports had been cancelled. No reason. The fault report was re-initiated.
The first pair of technicians arrived 12 hours later. It was dark already. The technician borrowed my torch. They ascertained that the cable from the street pole to the house was the cause. They were unable to restore power. They called for a test crew to verify their finding. They departed the scene after determining that we should be contacted on the cellphone number because the land line needs power to be functional.
The cellphone never rang. This morning we called the fault line again to find out our status (and verify that we were not cancelled again). It was said that the test crew arrived at about 1 am in the morning but could not gain access to the house and left without doing anything. They claimed to have called our cellphone, which was at the bedside. The assurance was given that the test crew would return today.
Instead, another pair of technicians was dispatched. They were unaware that they had been beaten to it yesterday already and were totally uninformed about the nature of what had already transpired. They have verified the finding of the first technician crew and are now also waiting for the test crew. For nearly 4 hours already.
Did I mention that there is absolutely no plan to restore power at this stage. We do not know if the test crew will bring any advance on this ethereal status. It is totally unclear as to who will determine the course of action that will ensue. Already we have observed that the recording and the updating of the status of the fault report number suffers from memory loss, which I call AA (for Administrative Alzheimer’s).
The cable is an old style lead sheathed, paper insulated design which was the best choice when the house was built in 1945. One conductor has previously faulted and is consequently cut back to indicate this. This would have occurred more than 22 years ago when the house was bought, which we know because it has always been like that since that time.
From this information it can be gleaned that City Power does not have any related planning for renewal of items that are way beyond their intended useful life. This leaves only one other methodology, which is breakdown maintenance. This is catered for by a unique and clever billing system that presently charges some R670 on the monthly account for a “network” & “service” fee, which we pensioners get to pay too. We have had a smart meter imposed upon us that blasts us with unhealthy radio transmissions. Tinnitus is a given. So as to avoid our confusion there is no option for a pre-paid meter for us.
So here we are with our 76 year old cable which has finally broken down on Good Friday 2021 and snared us within the jaws of an omnipotent ambivalence.
Maybe this is all just our bad luck, but perhaps our poor choice to live in Johannesburg can also be ascribed. One thing only is certain – City Power is not available for being assigned any responsibility in any manner whatsoever. Should you dare to show any signs of distress you will be cut off.

Put simply, load shedding is set to continue for the next five years due to 26 years of ANC corruption and mismanagement.

The ANC still prefer a failed state than ring fencing Eskom and other SOEs from all things BEE, which is just code for more ANC corruption.

Incorrect headline it should read “ANC is the reason why load shedding is set to continue for the next 5 years”

“…. load shedding is set to continue for the next five years”

And then bingo, never to happen again?

And there I thought L.S was extortion yielded by a few to gain concessions

Perhaps the Eskom cronies are not unashamedly “bent”

I would just like to point out that when I was at University, we were given candles to write our final exams because of load shedding. This was back in 2006/2007. The SA ANC Govt, in the last 14 yrs or so, have still managed to achieve nothing except scoring lovely backhands for themselves. If anyone think that load shedding will pass is deluded. It is here to stay.

As Zimbabweans have done, get solar, get a borehole, get gas. Sort yourself out, cos the Govt won’t.

As Zimbabweans have done, get solar, get a borehole, get gas. Sort yourself out, cos the Govt won’t.

I wonder how these bad , bad Apartheid guys managed to produce more electricity at a fraction of today’s price and with hardly any interruptions. Dare one mention it ?

Simple — Knowledge, skill, attitude, motivation, discipline and pride !!

And the most important parameter tying these characteristics together in a unified whole … PERSONAL INTEGRITY.

At EVERY level.

Let’s try something different. Rather than these 2 and 4 hour blackouts a few times a day, rather rotate long blackouts, once a week, 6AM to midnight.

It is much easier on business to plan for entire days lost than the short gaps.

This scheme where CPT is one stage lower needs to go. CPT does not generate power, it has a pumped storage system that runs on national energy. The Witbank people where most energy is actually produced do not get any relief. One for all and all for one and all that.

Don’t worry ….. the Gangster ANC will call upon the Guptas to come back and open up more coal and uranium mines(paid for in advance by Eskam), at a price of course. The Guptas can then also set up an “energy consultancy” and solve all of Eskam’s problems. Family and friends will be able to feast once again!!!

The wonderful Eskom transformation model has, through racist legislation, now the ‘model’ for all private businesses. Maybe they (ANC) desire for the entire country to be on social grants.

The admission that load shedding will continue for the next 5 years is I believe untrue. It will last until we get competent and honest people in Eskom. I believe that the 5 year admission has been chosen for exactly the same reason that communist countries always had 5 year plans. I.e short enough to give people some hope that something is being done and long enough to buy the authorities a significant amount of time to do nothing.

Meanwhile IPPs are ling up with solar and other projects that can add many MWs to the grid, only to be stalled with lengthy and onerous tender requirements and being allocated a fraction of the capacity we need – this while green energy is currently cheaper than what local coal plants can produce. To add to the govts cake it’s illegal for me to generate my own electricity, or it will be taxed. How can this be constitutional??

They will be happy when they are back at the level of sitting under a tree with their fat bellies hanging over their leopard skin loin cloths.

They may then just miss the hated western things.

End of comments.





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