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City Power Chairman Calls for Urgent Measures to Stabilize Johannesburg’s Power Grid Amid Energy Crisis

Published March 20, 2024
2 months ago

In an urgent call to action, Bonolo Ramokhele, chairman of City Power, has highlighted a dire need for drastic measures to prevent the power network in Johannesburg from collapsing. Addressing a critical energy conference, Ramokhele laid out plans to stabilize the grid and meet the demands of the city’s 5.6 million residents amidst widespread load shedding and grid instability.

The Energy Adviser in the Presidency, Silas Zimu, speaking at the largest renewable energy exhibition in Africa—the Future Energy Show Africa—noted that while the government is committed to introducing renewables, the transition from coal has been slower than necessary. Given the significant reliance on coal, the government has deferred shutting down older power stations contrary to Eskom's 2035 policy.

The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP), established 13 years ago, has added 6,200 megawatts (MW) to the grid, with more capacity expected in 2025. However, Zimu recognized that current rates of introduction for renewable solutions and carbon capture technologies are insufficient to meet demand and prevent economic impact.

City Power, which relies heavily on Eskom for energy supply, has recently obtained approval to bring in independent power producers, aiming for 700 to 1,000 megawatts in the first bid window. Adding to this, they plan to reactivate open-cycle gas turbines to provide an additional 100 megawatts.

Ramokhele underscored the precarious condition of Johannesburg's power network, with aging infrastructure causing frequent outages. Acknowledging that 50 years would be required at the current investment rate to revamp the network, he called upon the private sector to forge partnerships to accelerate improvement and prevent a total network collapse.

City Power's efforts to incorporate renewable energy, maintain coal stations, and include private sector involvement reveal a multi-pronged approach essential for sustaining Johannesburg's electricity demand and mitigating the risk of a severe power network failure.

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