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Sharpen your calculators! - South Africa to tender 12,000 MW of new independent electricity sources – including wind, solar and gas

Al Karaki's picture
CEO and Founder 4iAfrica - Insight, Implementation, Innovation, Impact

Experienced project manager, visionary, social innovator and serial entrepreneur who insights, innovates and implements large scale projects for governments, the private sector and civil society...

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  • Oct 7, 2020

South Africa to tender 12,000 MW of new independent electricity sources – including wind, solar and gas

25 September 2020

Nobelsfontein Wind Farm


The Department of Energy has gazetted a new determination for the Energy Regulation Act, allowing power utility Eskom to source over 11,800 megawatts of power from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

The department said that new generation capacity is needed in the country to contribute to its growing power demands, and the new determination allows Eskom to tap renewable, gas, and coal producers for this.

It breaks down the capacity as follows:

  • 6,800 megawatts from renewable (wind and solar) sources;
  • 3,000 megawatts from gas sources;
  • 1,500 megawatts from coal sources; and
  • 513 megawatts from storage.

“Electricity from the new generation capacity shall be procured through one or more tendering procedures…and shall target connection to the grid as soon as reasonably possible within the given timeline,” the department said.

“The electricity must be purchased from independent power producers.”

The timelines are outlined in the department’s Integrated Resource Plan of 2019, where the focus has been placed on decommissioning the country’s dependence on coal power, in favour of alternatives such as wind, solar and gas.

The renewable components are projected for the 2022 to 2024 allotment, with the gas component projected for completion by 2027.

By 2030, the department expects around 11,000 megawatts of coal power to be decommissioned; however, when coupled with new coal sources, it will still contribute the biggest proportion of South Africa’s energy mix (approximately 33,400 megawatts – or 43% of total capacity).

Over the same period, renewable energy is expected to see the biggest climb to about one third (26,000 megawatts, or 33%) of total installed capacity. Other sources would include gas (8%), hydro (6%) and nuclear (2%) – which still remains part of the long-term energy mix plans.

Despite government’s pivot away from nuclear energy builds, Energy and Mineral Resources minister Gwede Mantashe has maintained that nuclear remains part of the country’s plans.

In May, the department said that it plans to expand nuclear capacity within the next five years.

The country currently has a single nuclear plant. A drive for additional facilities largely faded after the ruling party forced Jacob Zuma to step down as president in 2018.

Additional plants were widely considered unaffordable, and the nation’s economic slump has further dented the government’s ability to pay for them. Under Zuma, government was pushing for a build of multiple nuclear plants in the country, which some analysts projected would cost the country over R1 trillion.

Speaking at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) general conference earlier this month, Mantashe said that South Africa has commenced consultations with suppliers of nuclear power reactors to provide costing and schedule information and possible ownership models, through a Request for Information for the 2,500MW programme issued in June 2020.

Submitter's note: link to documentation

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 7, 2020

South Africa has commenced consultations with suppliers of nuclear power reactors to provide costing and schedule information and possible ownership models, through a Request for Information for the 2,500MW programme issued in June 2020.

How likely do you think it is that we see new nuclear builds in SA in the coming decade? Would the hurdles be too great?

Al Karaki's picture
Al Karaki on Oct 7, 2020

I think that the build cost is more than SA could bear and considering that we are Category 7 when it comes to solar power, it wouldn't make sense to go nuclear when SA has the highest rating in the world. The microgrid buzzword is also making its rounds and I believe that Africa's rural energy requirements will favour container power instead of nuclear power. Cape Town had its first significant tremor last week... that got a few heads processing.

Daniel Duggan's picture
Daniel Duggan on Oct 19, 2020

Hurdles?  Matt, are you referring to corruption, junk credit rating, lack of skills?

Read this report of the looting of South Africa's infrastructure, in this case it’s the railway network, however all infrastructure including electricity is being destroyed as the ANC government converts Africa's one-time leading industrialised country into another African failed state.


On the other hand, there are some South Africa optimists in USA.


Dr. Amal Khashab's picture
Dr. Amal Khashab on Oct 7, 2020

As I remember ,South African Nuclear option was favoured during the international boycut before 1994 , since it was locally manufactured. 

Al Karaki's picture
Al Karaki on Oct 8, 2020

The political strings on nuclear was that the previous SA pres was dancing with the Russians for a nuclear installation, but as the "deal" T and Cs started to emerge, there was a huge outcry to go renewables. Of course Eskom, in trying to survive an enormous corruption fueled debt based on the building of more coal based mega plants held its ground for coal... and so the energy tussle began. The call for nuclear at this point seems to be more political than practical...

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Oct 9, 2020

If you were going to design a country to be compatible with solar and wind from a multitude of independent energy suppliers of all sizes, South Africa would be the place. Of course, it could be said (and was) that SA´s coal resources made that energy source look promising, once upon a time.

If you only want to ensure crooked politics and graft, then nuclear would be the solution. 

I hope SA chooses wisely.


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