Bureaucratic hurdles 'holding back' Eskom customers from being part of solution

As South Africans reel from another round of load shedding, energy expert Chris Yelland takes a closer look at Eskom's problems and the obstacles preventing implementation of solutions that could be effective relatively quickly.

Yelland acknowledges that the cyclone that made landfall in Mozambique on Thursday has caused additional troubles, but says these are minor compared to the others facing the power utility.

Two lines from Cahora Bassa are a total of about 1,400 km between the two substations... They carry at maximum about 1,400 megawatts and both lines are currently down.

Chris Yelland, Energy expert

Eskom and the Mozambican authorities haven't been able to gain access to the damaged portions of the line due to the cyclone and due to condition of roads and bridges etc. which have been severely damaged, so we don't know the extent of the damage or how long it's going to take to get these lines back up.

Chris Yelland, Energy expert

But bear in mind that currently Eskom has some 5,000 megawatts of generation units in South Africa down as a result of boiler tube leaks alone. There are a number of other generation units that are down at this moment as well for other reasons.

Chris Yelland, Energy expert

Yelland says Eskom's two biggest priorities are doing proper maintenance and putting the right skills in place.

First of all, people and skills. You know there is a moratorium on at the moment on the recruitment of new people at Eskom... but this is receiving attention at the very highest level.

Chris Yelland, Energy expert

Of course there are procurement issues which are delaying the procurement of spares and equipment and maintenance services.

Chris Yelland, Energy expert

Finance is a constraint and that has to be addressed too.

Chris Yelland, Energy expert

He maintains there are short-term options that could deliver new generation capacity within six to eight months, but customers are being denied these because of red tape.

If we can only remove bureaucratic stumbling blocks that are holding back the customer from being part of the solution in the form of so-called smallscale imbedded generation.

Chris Yelland, Energy expert

It's not a money problem - the DPSA has made a lot of money available for this purpose and other financial institutions have also come to the table.

Chris Yelland, Energy expert

It's not about money, it's about the fact we don't have the SSEG (smallscale embedded regulation) regulations in place and this is holding back a really quick-win option for South Africa that could deliver several thousand megawatts of new rooftop solar PV capacity.

Chris Yelland, Energy expert

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