South Africa “does not have a shortage of generation capacity”

February 18th, 2015, Published in Articles: EE Publishers, Articles: Energize

 

Dr Wolsey Barnard

Dr Wolsey Barnard

South Africa does not have a shortage of generation capacity, says the Department of Energy, but a shortage of available generation capacity. Delivering the keynote address on behalf of the minister of energy at the Africa Energy Indaba in Sandton on 17 February 2015, Dr. Wolsey Barnard, the department’s acting director general, said that the gap between energy supply and demand is small because so much of the capacity is off-line for maintenance or repair. Eskom has a total generation capacity of 43 400 MW of which 4800 MW is currently unavailable. The utility holds 2000 MW as operating reserve and a further 8000 MW as an “unplanned outage assumption”, leaving 28 600 MW actually available. Barnard said that the department’s focus is getting the off-line generation back in service as soon as possible so as to increase the reserve margin to safer levels and to prevent loadshedding.

According to Barnard, a number of technologies will contribute to future energy generation including solar, wind, hydro and nuclear to reduce CO2 emissions. He said that the construction of the Grand Inga hydroelectric scheme is becoming more likely as a result of political and economic pressure. When complete, this project could add as much as 40 000 MW to the network. Barnard said that regional cooperation between nations is vital because of the immense cost of this project which will produce enough electricity for the nations, which pool their resources, to share.

Referring to the World Energy Council’s “Energy Trilemma”, Barnard said that energy equity (i.e. access to energy for everyone) in sub-Sarahan Africa would cost between $7- and $8-billion per year, for 25 years, excluding generation costs. He said that 12% of the world’s population, approximately 900-million people, live in this region and use about 3% of the world’s energy, about the same amount of electricity as the 48-million people who live in Spain use.

The South African government will implement its five-point plan, Barnard said, referring to the announcement made in December 2014, which includes the establishment of cogeneration contracts with the private sector; generation of electricity by means of gas; the fitting of energy-efficient technologies at municipal facilities; a programme for coal-fired power stations with independent power producers; and the implementation of a turnaround strategy at Eskom to improve the utility’s financial sustainability.

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