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Cabinet has issued a statement throwing the weight of South Africa’s leadership behind renewable energy. Saying that government will ensure “a responsible and just transition to a cleaner future”, the statement added that energy is a key enabler in South Africa’s trajectory towards socio-economic growth and development. The National Development Plan (NDP) states that South Africa needs at least 20 000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2030.

Government backs renewables

“Within eight years, the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP) has attracted R209.4 billion in committed private sector investment, resulting in much-needed alleviation of fiscal pressure. The renewable IPPs have created 38 701 job years for youth and women from their surrounding communities. With regards to the environment, the REIPPP’s contribution has meant that South Africa’s carbon emission is reduced by about 33.2 million tonnes (Mton) of carbon dioxide (CO2) and water savings of 39.2 million kilolitres achieved by 31 December 2018,” the statement said.

While the draft energy plan sees 24,370 megawatts of generating capacity coming from wind, natural gas, solar and hydropower plants through 2030, renewable power from independent producers currently accounts for 3.8GW, less than 5% of the energy sold to consumers.

The same Cabinet meeting that resulted in the statement saw a report from Deputy President David Mabuza into the state of affairs at Eskom. “Government’s co-ordinated efforts to bring financial, operational and structural sustainability to Eskom are proceeding in earnest,” the statement said.

Mabuza outlined the results of his meeting with the leadership of the labour unions, the coal mining industry, and the engineering fraternity, to discuss the restructuring of Eskom. The coal mining industry, which was represented by the Minerals Council of South Africa (MINCOSA), raised problems related to coal supply, costs and pricing, and the quality of coal provided to Eskom. The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) provided an analysis of the problems facing Eskom, as well as a set of recommendations about how to involve the broader South African academic and technical professional fraternity in the urgent interventions required to stabilise electricity supply.

It was agreed that MINCOSA and the ECSA will assist government to establish a Technical Operations and Maintenance Review Team for Eskom, Mabuza said. This will be announced “shortly”. “The meeting sought to establish a basis for formal future consultations. The restructuring of Eskom was also discussed, and all parties agreed that there would be more interactions to better understand the roadmap and the implications of separating Eskom’s business divisions into three separate operating entities,” said the statement.

Image Credit Flickr/GovernmentZA: https://www.flickr.com/photos/governmentza/42937921851

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