The Minister of Minerals and Energy, Guede Mantashe, says the government is committed to supporting renewable energy projects, but will not rush the country to switch from its own coal-dependent energy generation.
The minister was speaking on the sidelines of the signing of three power purchase agreements with wind power generators.
Three agreements were signed with Kolskop Wind Power, San Kral Wind Power and Fezukomoya Wind Power, which are expected to contribute some 420MW of energy to the grid by December 2024.
These projects will result in an investment of some R11 billion and a further commitment of R534 million for the development of areas where renewable energy projects will be based.
Some 2 230 jobs are also expected to be created.
“What I would like to see is a situation where the debate on energy becomes less polarized. IRP [Integrated Resource Plan] There is actually a framework that promotes the development of mixed technologies.
“We need a lot of renewable energy…to reduce coal – not to run out, to scale down systematically. are born.
“In the coal belt in Mpumalanga, there are 10 cities involved in continuous coal mining. It is home to several power stations, which will be closed over time. We have contributed 40% to buy a pipeline because we think Eskom should be able to repurpose some power stations from coal to gas.
“Europe has accepted gas and atom as part of it” [energy] transition so we can’t hold back and believe that we can shut everything else down and just go in for renovations,” Mantashe said.
However, he said the government’s initial investments and purchases of renewable energy are already bearing fruit, and assured that cost concerns are now a thing of the past.
“Bid windows 1 to 4 are all grid-connected. They generate electricity and put that energy into the grid… [and] Those bid windows were quite expensive. So… when we give money to Eskom, don’t say it’s a bailout (sic). describe [it] As a premium we pay to attract a technology into the economy. As we have that technology, it drives down the price. This is one benefit of investing in technology.
“Bid window 5 is the first bid window in Eskom to fall below the cost of energy generation and sale as we have invested in technology,” the minister said.
Mantashe acknowledged the disruption caused by the current energy production crisis in Eskom.
He added that at present, Eskom power stations still have a total untapped capacity of up to 48 000MW.
“Eskom, at best, gives us 26,000MW. That’s why we say part of the solution is to optimize Eskom’s operations … by servicing and maintaining the units that are not giving us energy.
“We think that if we can invest in that, skills and resources, we will see the difference in terms of energy shortage and we can solve the energy crisis,” the minister said.