Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, says government is focused on improving the performance of Eskom’s power stations and “adding as much new generation capacity to the grid as possible, as quickly as possible” in order to ensure energy security.

He was speaking during a media briefing by several ministers whose departments fall under the National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM).

The NECOM – which comprises of Eskom and relevant government departments – was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during an address to the nation last Monday on interventions to address the electricity crunch the country has been experiencing.

NECOM will report to an inter-ministerial committee chaired by the President and comprises of Minister Gungubele, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe; Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan; Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana; Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment ,Barbara Creecy; as well as the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel.

Gungubele told the briefing that government is proactively addressing energy concerns.

“Government is taking bold steps both to address the immediate crisis and to make load shedding a thing of the past. Further, we are mobilising all of the resources at our disposal and will do whatever it takes to achieve energy security.

“I must emphasise that achieving energy security is our single most important objective as a country, to enable economic growth and job creation. Our short-term objective is to reduce the severity and frequency of load shedding through immediate measures to stabilise the energy system. Our long-term objective is to end load shedding altogether,” Gungubele said at Monday’s briefing.

The minister highlighted that government has already taken steps in addressing energy shortages including:

• Changes have been made to the Regulations on New Generation Capacity to allow Municipalities to procure power independently. As a result, several municipalities are in the process of procuring additional power.

• A revival of the renewable energy procurement programme which enabled 2205 MW from Bid Window 4 to proceed to construction, the majority of which has now been connected to the grid.

• A further 6800 MW of solar PV and wind power is being procured in terms of the current Ministerial determination. This additional generation capacity will connect to the grid from late 2023. Another 3000 MW of gas and 513 of battery storage will be procured through the next bid windows.

• In 2021, the licensing threshold for power generations increased from 1MW to 100MW which has resulted in a pipeline of more than 80 confirmed private sector projects under development with a combined capacity of over 6000 MW, several of which will commence construction this year.

• Eskom has established an independent transmission company and is on track to separate its generation and distribution businesses by the end of 2022.

“These are just a few examples of the interventions government has already put in place. However, we recognise that we need to be responsive to the situation as it develops. The severe load shedding which we experienced last month showed that additional actions are necessary to restore system stability and increase generation capacity,” Gungubele said.

These actions will be guided by the five interventions outlined by President Ramaphosa, which are to:

• Fix Eskom and improve the availability of existing supply

• Enable and accelerate private investment in generation capacity

• Accelerate procurement of new capacity from renewables, gas and battery storage

• Unleash businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar

• Fundamentally transform the electricity sector to achieve long-term energy security.

“The NECOM has already begun to meet regularly to ensure that these actions are implemented swiftly. Eight work streams have been established to ensure coordination across government, and discussions are underway with the private sector and other social partners to ensure that the best available expertise in the country is brought into this effort.

“As the President said in his address to the nation: “The crisis that we are facing requires that we should take bold, courageous and decisive action to close the electricity gap. That is our overriding objective as government,” Gungubele said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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