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Amid Eskom’s troubles, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe has reportedly asked for double the agreed-on amount of electricity from the Inga 3 hydro power plant in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2013, South Africa committed to purchasing 2 500 MW from the dam.

Bloomberg reports that Radebe notified the Congolese authorities of the country’s intention to buy more power from the dam in a letter sent late last year. “I wish to indicate South Africa’s interest to procure additional capacity of 2 500 MW over and above that which was committed under the treaty,” the letter reportedly states.

South Africa looks for more power from Inga 3

Finalising an agreement for 5 000 MW will be subject to conditions including South Africa securing buyers for some of this electricity from within the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) before the end of this year, according to Radebe’s letter. The SAPP is an initiative between regional electricity utilities that seeks to increase accessibility to power.

The necessary cabinet approvals for the agreement are expected by the end of the first quarter, Radebe said in the letter, despite the fact that South Africa’s parliamentary energy committee cast doubt on the wisdom of relying on the Congolese project in November. At that stage, the committee recommended that alternatives be found to replace the original commitment of 2 500 MW in the event that the Grand Inga project does not come on line in time.

In even the most optimistic forecasts, the plant won’t be fully operational until the late 2020s, according to a timeline included in the companies’ bid, Bloomberg reports. South Africa increasing its off-take to 5 000 MW would be critical to realising Inga 3’s ambitions, according to a presentation delivered to the African Development Bank in July 2018.

The Inga project will be developed by a partnership of Chinese and Spanish companies, including China Three Gorges Corp. and State Grid International Development Ltd., as well as Madrid-based AEE Power Holdings SL. The companies submitted their joint bid in November.

According to Radebe’s letter, the tariff should be no more than $30/MWh, which excludes transmission costs. Power lines will need to span multiple borders in order to reach South Africa, 3 000 km away. 

 

Image credit FlickrGovernmentZA: https://www.flickr.com/photos/governmentza/35527365766

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