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'SA's centrist energy system only works if the energy minister does his job'

11 December 2019 4:39 PM
Tags:
Eskom
Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe
Integrated Resource Plan IRB
SA energy crisis
Energy expert Professor Anton Eberhard responds to the announcement of "immediate measures" to aid South Africa's energy supply.

As Eskom made the shock announcement to implement Stage 6 load shedding on Monday afternoon, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe had an announcement of his own.

His statement announced "immediate measures" to aid South Africa's energy supply.

These include the promulgation of Section 34 ministerial determinations, aimed at guiding the Independent Power Producer programme and procurement.

RELATED: Ramaphosa discusses energy action plan with Mantashe and Gordhan

Afternoon Drive host John Maytham gets the views of Professor Anton Eberhard, the director of the Power Futures Lab at the University of Cape Town's (UCT's) Graduate School of Business.

Given a choice between the response of "about time" or "too late", Prof. Eberhard picks the latter.

He maintains that nothing Mantashe announced on Monday will relieve immediate energy shortages.

Eberhard says it's taken "all of nine years" to update the official electricity plan - the Integrated Resource Plan or IRB - with an "inexplicable" delay in translating it into procurement and investments.

We have a highly command-and-control framework. There's very little space for the private sector or individuals or municipalities or companies to put forward their own power solutions if those are larger than one megawatt.

Prof. Anton Eberhard, Director - Power Futures Lab at UCT Graduate School of Business

You need permissions, you need Nersa licenses, you need the minister to make these Section 34 determinations of what power needs to be procured - how much, from which source, by whom and who it would be sold to.

Prof. Anton Eberhard, Director - Power Futures Lab at UCT Graduate School of Business

He says this centrist system only works if the energy minister does his job.

He has huge powers, huge responsibilities so at least now he's said that he will start initiating these Section 34 determinations in terms of the plan. But of course it will take three years before that power comes on.

Prof. Anton Eberhard, Director - Power Futures Lab at UCT Graduate School of Business

Although he welcomes the minister's pledge to request ideas for short-term solutions, Prof. Eberhard is not very hopeful this will deliver any ideas that are affordable.

Listen to the conversation on Afternoon Drive with John Maytham below:

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11 December 2019 4:39 PM
Tags:
Eskom
Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe
Integrated Resource Plan IRB
SA energy crisis

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