PARLIAMENT – Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe on Wednesday said he was taking steps to ensure president Cyril Ramaphosa’s directives on resolving South Africa’s energy crisis showed results within months.
"An unreliable electricity supply is the biggest threat to economic growth, job creation and development," Mantashe said in the debate on Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address, stressing that it was now clear that Eskom would implement loadshedding for at least two years as it battled supply shortages.
Mantashe cited an ANC resolution taken in 2020 that transforming society and the economy required ingenuity and effort from all, and said as this spirit should be evident in the collective response to the president’s address "instead of preoccupation with parochial differences".
He confirmed that his department had received 481 responses to a call for proposals to supply power to the grid in the shortest possible time on a least-cost and a least-regret approach.
The finalisation of section 34 determinations to implement the IRP 2019 blueprint, and their expected approval by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) should now pave the way for the opening of bid windows to procure more renewable energy, he added.
Ramaphosa had signalled that the government would procure emergency energy supply, ease requirements for generation for own use, and allow municipalities to procure power directly.
Mantashe said emergency procurement should see the projects deliver energy to the grid within three to 12 months of approval.
On generation for own use, he said NERSA had 132 application involving facilities of less than one megawatt, a category where licencing requirements had now been eased.
They have a total capacity of 59 megawatts.
"Of these, 75 applications with total capacity of 42 megawatts (42 MW) are approved. The remaining 57 applications with total capacity of 16 megawatts are being processed.
"On average, NERSA takes 38 working days to process applications for registration."
Mantashe added: "Keeping with the president’s commitment of a paradigm shift in energy, these concrete measures are underway to complement other efforts for improving capabilities of Eskom for reliable supply of electricity, and to ensure security of energy supply for economic growth and development.
"The results will become evident in the coming months."
The opposition has suggested that Mantashe was stalling on opening further IPP bid windows, in defiance of Ramaphosa’s orders.