South Africa gives green light for investments in batteries, renewables, to tackle power shortages

by John Shepherd
Ramaphosa said power shortages have damaged the economy. Photo: Eskom
South Africa is to become an investment hotspot for new energy infrastructure projects including battery storage, solar and wind, in a bid to end years of crippling power shortages, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.

Ramaphosa said the private sector will invest around ZAR 45bn (£2.2bn) to supply 2,000 MW of "emergency power” and fill a gap in generating capacity over the coming year, after the government accepted bids for a range of projects.

In addition, he said the government had issued a request for proposals to procure a further 2,600 MW of renewable energy from independent power producers.

"Over the course of the next year, government plans to release four more requests for proposals for new power generation projects, in renewable energy, gas, coal and battery storage respectively," the president said.

"These projects would be expected to provide over 7,000 MW of electricity.”

'Decade of problems'

"These new sources of electricity are vital to ensure a reliable supply of energy into the future. The electricity shortage has been a problem for more than a decade, with economic activity being severely interrupted every time there is a power cut, affecting smaller businesses and large industries alike.”

South Africa’s state power utility, Eskom, has 15 coal-fired power stations and one nuclear plant. There are also nine smaller stations run on a combination of diesel, pumped storage and hydroelectricity.

Most of the coal power stations are more than 40 years old and are prone to breakdowns.

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