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South Africa Shores Up Energy Security with Nuclear and Renewable Projects

Published February 27, 2024
4 months ago

In a landmark announcement for South Africa's energy sector, Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa confirmed the government's commitment to bolstering the country’s energy supply. The move aims to combat persistent energy insecurity and accommodate future demands, with a particular focus on diversifying energy sources.

As part of this commitment, the government will initiate the procurement process for an additional 2,500 megawatts (MW) of nuclear energy in line with the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). Ramokgopa's statement, which came as a response to a written parliamentary inquiry by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Mzwanele Manyi, outlined a strategy that also includes the transformation of existing diesel open gas turbine (OCGT) infrastructure towards gas, yielding 2,000MW of power, and a further 1,000MW from Closed Cycle Gas Turbines.

The minister unveiled expansive plans for a renewable energy rollout, detailing that Eskom, the national electricity supplier, would pursue the development of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems combined with battery energy storage solutions, with a potential output of a substantial 4,000MW. Anklelig and Gourikwa power stations are specified as sites for the conversion to gas energy, with an additional 3,000MW approved for a project in Richards Bay.

Beyond these initiatives, there is a significant push to encourage private sector investment in renewable energy projects. Ramokgopa highlighted the necessity for expanding the country's transmission lines, with an ambitious plan to extend them by 14,000 kilometers, utilizing billions of rands in investments. Although the minister indicated that funding sources for these grid expansions had been identified, more information on the financial mechanisms and timelines would be made available in the subsequent couple of weeks.

The government's proactive approach has not gone unnoticed by the investor community, with Ramokgopa noting a "huge appetite" for such energy expansion projects. Despite the enthusiasm, he acknowledged the challenges faced in connecting renewable energy projects to the grid, particularly in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and the Northern Cape, due to the historical concentration of grid infrastructure in Mpumalanga and nearby provinces.

This admission aligns with concerns previously expressed by Minister of Minerals and Energy Gwede Mantashe, who identified that the lack of grid capacity in coastal provinces has thwarted the connection of some renewable projects to the national grid.

This comprehensive plan marks a decisive step in South Africa's journey towards a secure and sustainable energy future. By incorporating a mix of nuclear energy, gas conversions, and expansive renewable energy projects, the government aspires to ensure a reliable power supply for the nation while also tapping into cleaner energy sources.

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