South Africa will need to build solar and wind plants at a blistering pace — almost nine times faster than it previously has — over the next decade to replace unreliable coal-fired power stations set for retirement.
While new generation units will include a range of renewables, the amount of capacity needed is equivalent to the output from 166 million photovoltaic panels, using an estimate for solar technology from the US department of energy.
South Africa requires 53GW of clean energy capacity by 2032 to make up for the closures and reach a secure level of supply, according to Eskom last week. South Africa has only realised 6.1GW since it started a government programme in 2011 to buy green energy from independent producers.
Load shedding has reached a record level this year, crimping the economy, as the utility struggles just to keep ageing and new coal stations running. The country’s energy transition also involves reskilling an industry based around the fossil fuel that supports 90 000 workers and the communities they live in.
Recent efforts by the government to step up renewable installations have uncovered additional obstacles, with some projects unable to reach financial close due to rising costs and supply-chain issues.
Eskom’s latest projection accounts for the shutdown of 15GW of coal-fired power during the period as well as a deterioration of the fleet’s performance, which makes less energy available, Segomoco Scheppers, the company’s MD of transmission, said in a presentation last Thursday.
The unit is concentrating on implementing projects in the next five years, “which we consider extremely critical from a security of supply perspective”, he said. — (c) 2022 Bloomberg LP