Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has seemingly made a U-turn on his energy plan to see the country free of load-shedding by December.
An insider recently told TimesLIVE Ramokgopa’s plan to end blackouts includes a proposal to extend the life of several coal-fired power stations and eradicate load-shedding by the festive season.
“Sputla [Ramokgopa] is trying to make sure that by September we reduce load-shedding to maximum stage 3, that’s why he’s pushing for all these things. By December he thinks it’s possible to eradicate load-shedding,” said the source.
However, speaking at the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Boksburg at the weekend, Ramokgopa said it was not possible to end load-shedding by the end of this year.
“I want to sit here and tell the country load-shedding will end tomorrow. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. It is also not technically possible to end load-shedding by the end of the calendar year 2023, and that’s why we are at pains to illustrate the kind of steps we are taking ,” said Ramokgopa.
“ The long and short of it is that load-shedding will still be with us by the end of this calendar year, but we will do everything possible to ensure its intensity is not as severe, so we get the economy going.”
The country is battling stage 3 and 4 load-shedding this week.
The minister previously warned of a dark and cold winter if Eskom’s grid remains constrained.
According to him, Eskom needs about 6,000MW to bridge the gap between demand and supply.
Ramokgopa said with energy demand expected to grow in winter, the gap could increase to 10,000MW, which may result in higher stages of load-shedding. He said Eskom’s energy availability factor averages 53%.
“Our initial computations suggest we need about 6,000MW for us to close this gap,” said the minister.
“This is a determination made on summer conditions. On average, Eskom can guarantee us about 27,000MW, and we know peak demand in summer is about 32,000MW.”
“We are entering winter, which is going to be a very difficult period. The numbers suggest historically the average [demand] is about 35,000MW, but it can go up to 37,000MW.”
Speaking to the media last week on the sidelines of the ANC’s national working committee meeting in Polokwane, he said he was engaging Eskom and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan on a winter plan.
“I have been engaging Eskom. We had a meeting with the board, me and Pravin Gordhan, with regard to the winter plan because we are anticipating demand is going to rise significantly from 30,000MW to up to 37,000MW.
“Eskom’s winter plan, which was presented to us, is we are on stage 6 and we will be engaging Eskom in relation to the grid performance.”