Minerals & energy minister Gwede Mantashe says energy regulator Nersa has already approved 75 applications from private companies wanting to generate energy for self-use.
He said applications came from individual households and companies, and that most of them were mining companies.
The minister said this when he briefed the media in Cape Town following his participation in the debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address on Tuesday.
“It’s a mix, households and companies. Of the big ones, there are quite a lot of mining companies and other industrial companies,” he said on Wednesday.
All in all, the energy regulator has received 132 applications in this category, with a total capacity of 59MW. Of these, 75 applications with total capacity of 42MW were approved.
The remaining 57 applications with total capacity of 16MW are being processed. On average, Nersa takes 38 working days to process applications for registration.
Licensing of generation for own use of above 1MW, which is mainly to supplement power supply to commercial and industrial customers including the mines, has been eased.
Briefing journalists, Mantashe said applications that have not been approved were because there was insufficient information.
Meanwhile, in December, the department went into the market to ask the sector for information of where it can get additional energy that can close the power shortage gap as Eskom goes through a phase of load shedding due to planned and unplanned power outages.
“On the request for information, we received 481 responses. We are going through them to see who can give us energy within the next 12 months, the next 24 months, the next 36 months,” he said.
Mantashe said, meanwhile, that to speed up the process of addressing the power generation deficiency, regulations are being finalised that will enable municipalities to buy power from sources other than Eskom or to develop their own power projects for generation of own power.
He said that historically, metropolitan areas like Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Mangaung and others had their own power generation capacity, largely coal driven.
He said that advances in distributed generation technology make it viable for municipalities to create own power generation or buy power from projects developed within their jurisdiction.
“Cognisant of capacity challenges in most municipalities, also in the interest of security of supply, we are developing regulations to ensure regulatory certainty and in line with the Electricity Regulation Act, for municipalities to procure or develop their own power generation.” — SANews