The big story: Feel it, Cyril’s energy plan is here!

Ramaphosa announced his long-awaited plan to address SA’s energy crisis at a Monday family meeting and it’s a goodie. 

The plan does the obvious: listen to the experts. 

This includes cutting regulatory red tape for embedded power generation; bringing in original equipment manufacturers to restore equipment; recruiting former Eskom staff; allocating additional resources for maintenance, buying excess energy from independent power producers; and freeing up Eskom to buy energy from industrial and commercial producers, according to Fin24

The real tragedy is that it’s taken this long. Various experts have been punting these interventions for years, but government has ignored them for ideological and other reasons. 

When Eskom CEO André de Ruyter came into the poisoned chalice of a role in 2020 he put these ideas forward. It shouldn’t have taken this long to get them approved, but here we are. It took a crisis and record load-shedding to force Ramaphosa’s hand and De Ruyter got everything he asked for and more. For example, while the Eskom plan recommended raising the licence exemption threshold for “embedded” – private generation projects – from 100MW to 1 000MW, Ramaphosa removed the cap entirely, Fin24 notes. 

And we don’t have to wait too long. Ramaphosa announced that, in the next three months, Eskom would take extra measures to add more generation capacity to the grid.

Here are some of the plans:

  • Importing surplus power from neighbouring countries such as Botswana and Zambia. 
  • Doubling the electricity we get from renewable energy, gas and battery storage to 5,200 MW. We’ll also see Eskom constructing its first solar and battery storage projects at Komati, Majuba, Lethabo and several other power stations, adding over 500 MW to the system.
  • Setting up a special law enforcement team to fight the spate of sabotage at Eskom in recent months.
  • Incentivising the use of rooftop solar power – so you can sell surplus electricity to Eskom. 

Let’s hope it’s not too little too late, and that we have the expertise to get it done. We’re tired of the Sound of Silence references. Darkness isn’t a friend.

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