Medupi is key to short term energy crisis

Eskom bogged down with Medupi …

medupiActing director general of the department of energy (DoE), Tseliso Maqubela, told Parliament before it went into short recess that once Eskom’s new Medupi power station starts supplying the grid the country would have “turned the corner”.

“It is well known we are challenged on electricity”, he said, adding that the fresh view is being taken on the independent system marketer’s operators (ISMO) system which would contribute to recovery in the medium term through the addition of independent power producers (IPPs).

DG of energy policy, planning and clean energy, Ompi Aphane, in his presentation told parliamentarians that, as per the State of Nation Address (SONA), “vigorous attention is now being given to the establishment of the operator’s office to implement independent power supplies.

Financial  certainty, they say

On the subject of infrastructure build generally in the electricity sector, financial certainty was now being restored in the energy industry, Maqubela said, with the result that R120m in energy investment is now planned, “some of which has already come in and projects started.”

The overall plan was to divide power supply between Eskom and IPPs on a 70-30 basis through the national grid by 2020, decisions on refining and gas replacing diesel also being necessary in the short term in terms of a revised energy mix to meet future demand.

Other immediate focus areas for DoE were to increase access to electricity; increase “the momentum” of the installation of solar units; finalise the integrated energy plan; address maintenance and refurbishment programmes; “strengthen” the liquid fuels industry and facilitate decision taken on the nuclear programme.

Interface problems

A major issue being tackled was the in the area of household connections, according to the DoE presentation. Dr Wolsey Barnard, in charge of energy projects and programmes, explained that whilst Eskom was often bringing power to an area, the municipal backbone installations were either not ready or municipal skills were lacking.  DoE had recognised the problem and was busy trying to bridge this gap, he said, with skills training or by working on temporary permissions from municipalities with Eskom assistance.

However, Dr Barnard said it was encouraging that whereas the position ten years ago could have been described as hopeless, the situation was now specific and targeted to small areas, in most cases the most difficult remaining.

At the moment, 1,5m additional households will be connected by 2019 but as this is still insufficient to meet the target of universal electrification by 2025, additional funds are now being allocated by the state and plans made.

Barnard calls for co-operation

In order to achieve this, it was essential, Dr Barnard said, that the modalities regarding national, provincial and local government powers be revised on the ability for Eskom to assist in view of the lack of skills and the handling of appropriation funding.

He called for urgent attention to the fact that power installation funding by DoE to municipalities should be “ring fenced” and accounted for. This area had to be focused upon urgently, he noted.

He said that too many times Eskom had supplied power to an area only to be told by a municipality that there were no funds for distribution boxes or no skilled persons available to connect lines.  Dr Barnard said he was aware that the economic planning department were “in the picture” and legislation was planned despite the constitutional barriers but again he wanted to emphasise that this issue had to be resolved urgently.

EFF members asked if there were plans to specifically assist the unemployed with electricity connections and wanted a list of all power cuts to the different areas and the reasons for these.

Priorities from both sides

ANC member Ms Makwbele-Mashele asked the DG that with all the emphasis on “greening”, the high cost of gearing industry to meet new emissions and pollutants standards and the recently introduced air quality regulations, whether in his opinion these issues were hindering the country’ energy and industrial development.  The ANC also asked, as the fuel price seemed to be “out of our hands”, whether Sasol could increase production locally.

The DA wanted more detail on the exact steps at present underway to increase co-generation of energy to solve the immediate energy crisis.   This was in the light of the fact that the ISMO process had initially failed simply because DoE could not foresee the end state of independent power production, they said.    They also felt that a paper was needed to get clarity on how the integrated energy plan and the integrated resources plan locked into the NDP.

The DoE promised to respond to MPs questions in writing through the chair as the minister of energy had taken up most of the debating time available.

Other articles in this category or as background

  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/electricity-connections-target-far-short/
  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/electricity-tariffs-billiton-tells-its-side/
  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/major-metros-open-up-on-electricity-tariffs/
  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/eskom-issues-alerts/

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