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Ramaphosa says the R131 billion will help to end load shedding

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the R131 billion investment which South Africa recently secured into renewable energy will help overcome the debilitating load shedding which the country is currently experiencing.

This comes as Eskom announced stage 4 load shedding from Monday afternoon to 5am on Friday, forcing the country to languish in darkness as a result of the power utility’s challenges in providing steady electricity to citizens.

Eskom had initially announced on Sunday had that the country would remain on stage 2 load shedding for the rest of the week. In a statement on Monday, however, Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said it was necessary to escalate the load shedding from stage 2 to stage 4:While Eskom regrets the escalation in load shedding, it is necessary to ration the remaining emergency generation reserves, which have been utilised extensively this morning as we are not getting the reduction in demand as expected from the implementation of stage 2 load shedding.

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“[Eskom] was anticipating that an additional seven units would have returned to service by Monday, but this has not materialised. Further, a generating unit at Arnot Power Station [in Mpumalanga] tripped this morning, contributing to the shortages.”

Writing in his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa said the R131 billion investment committed by Germany, France, the US and the UK to speed up South Africa’s shift away from coal, as well as other investments into renewable energy, would help the country get out of the load shedding quagmire.

Load shedding has become a harsh reality for South African households and industries, the former who have seen Grade 12 learners who are writing their final exams being disrupted and the latter who have had to shed jobs as a result.

“South Africa has recently secured an initial commitment of about R131 billion to fund a transition to a low carbon economy by investing in renewable energy, green hydrogen and electric vehicles.”

“This commitment by the US, UK, France, Germany and the EU is in line with the Paris Agreement, which obliges wealthier countries to support decarbonisation in the developing world,” Ramaphosa wrote.

He said the 25 preferred bidders in the fifth round of the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme were expected to invest about R50 billion into the economy.

Meanwhile, the increase of the licensing threshold for embedded generation to 100 megawatts is likely to result in substantial private investment in electricity generation projects.

“These energy investments will help us overcome the debilitating load shedding that the country is currently experiencing, as new electricity generation capacity comes online,” said Ramaphosa.

The president also announced that the annual SA Investment Conference, which was due to be held this month, would take place in March 2022. This is because of the recently held local government elections, the COP26 climate conference and the Intra-African Trade Fair, which starts in Durban next week.

Another important reason for holding the conference next year, according to Ramaphosa, is that there will be far greater Covid-19 vaccination coverage by then, making both travelling and gathering easier.

“We held the first SA Investment Conference in 2018 as part of our ambitious drive to raise R1.2 trillion in new investment over five years. The conference was attended by [more than] a thousand delegates in 2018 and 2019, [respectively], and in 2020 was held in a hybrid format due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”Together, these conferences raised just over R770 billion in investment commitments across a wide range of economic sectors.Ramaphosa

Regarding the blackouts, Eskom said stage 2 load shedding would resume on Friday and last 5am on Saturday.

“We remind customers that load shedding is implemented as a last resort to maintain the stability of the power system regardless of the stage of load shedding … Eskom would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by the implementation of load shedding, and requests the public to reduce the usage of electricity in order to help us through the constraints,” said Mantshantsha.

Meanwhile, trade union federation Cosatu has thrown its support behind the deal that will see South Africa receive the R131 billion in cheap loans and grants to fund a move away from coal. The partnership was announced last week at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, Fin24 reported.

“[The deal] will assist Eskom to invest in new energy generation capacity,” said Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla.

“This is critical as a third of Eskom’s generation capacity will reach the end of its lifespan by 2030, and the power utility does not have sufficient funds at its disposal.”

Pamla said the funding agreement would help support workers and communities whose livelihoods are at risk from the decommissioning of the fleet of coal-fired power stations.

On the other hand, the EFF has indicated that it will oppose the deal.

Addressing the media last week, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said there would not be any “American” who would build the energy security of South Africa.

“We have 400 years of coal lifespan and we are just instructed by Americans that we should stop that. If they want to experiment with the transition from coal to different energy sources, let them go and do it in Germany first.”

–Media24

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