Yesterday’s announcement by Eskom of Stage 4 load shedding has totally neutralised any optimism created by positive GDP growth figures announced by Statistics SA (Stats SA).
That’s according to Business Unity South Africa (Busa) which described the news as “devastating”.
Stats SA yesterday revealed that first quarter growth was 1.1% up on the last quarter of 2020.
“The electricity crisis is worsening, yet government does not demonstrate the necessary urgency to address this crisis. Currently, besides the rollout of vaccines, energy security is the number one priority for economic recovery and growth,” Busa said.
“Eskom’s efforts are commendable but insufficient to ensure electricity security. The current generation infrastructure is old, dilapidated, and simply not able to meet the country’s electricity needs. This emphasises the urgent need to bring on stream different forms of energy, which include solar, renewables and embedded generation. This has got to be the urgent priority for government.”
And while government relies on the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2019) as a guide, Busa believes the plan is woefully outdated. “The energy availability factor (EAF) is 10% less than assumed. The supply gap is closer to 8000MW, rather than 2000MW. The implementation of the IRP is delayed, with not a single MW being procured, let alone commercialised, 20 months after the gazetting of the plan. The RMIPPP has faced criticism as an ‘emergency lever’ and is facing serious risk of further delay,” the organisation said.
“Eskom’s short-term power producer programme (STPPP) and the recent call for additional power from independent power producers (IPPs) from Bid Window rounds 1-3 have faced similar criticisms for imposing requirements that restrict the capacity that could come online.”
Busa believes that the most practical, fastest, most cost-effective and low-risk option for security of supply is through enabling embedded generation.
“It is time that government treated the energy crisis with the urgency it merits and effects the changes needed to create the enabling framework required, particularly to bring alternative energy sources on stream.”