In response to a pressing energy deficit adversely impacting the nation’s economy, South Africa is expediting its plans to introduce 3 gigawatts (GW) of gas-fired power generation, according to Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramakgopa. The country’s daily power cuts, resulting from frequent breakdowns in the aging coal-fired plants operated by state power utility Eskom, have prompted officials to seek an additional 6 GW of new generating capacity to end the cycle of rolling blackouts.
As part of the government’s strategy to bolster electricity generation, a 2 GW mobile facility and a 1 GW plant near Coega in the Eastern Cape are in the pipeline. Minister Ramakgopa emphasised that these projects have reached the procurement stage, demonstrating the government’s commitment to addressing the energy crisis.
Minister Ramakgopa underscored the significance of the 3,000 megawatts of gas generation, stating, “One of the things receiving priority is around the 3,000 megawatts of gas. As you know, gas, from an emissions standpoint, is a step down compared to coal, so it’s important we accelerate that.” This move aligns with the global trend of transitioning away from polluting fossil fuels in favour of cleaner energy sources.
It is worth noting that the South African government’s initial proposal for a 3 GW gas-fired power plant in Richards Bay on the east coast faced opposition from environmental groups. These groups advocate for a swifter transition to renewable energy projects that align with global efforts to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels. Minister Ramakgopa had previously stated that South Africa anticipates the introduction of over 5.5 GW of new renewable energy projects by 2026.
In addition to pursuing gas-fired power generation, South Africa is actively exploring the possibility of extending the operational life of its 40-year-old Koeberg nuclear plant, which has a capacity of 1.94 GW. The aim is to extend the plant’s lifespan by 20 years beyond its initially scheduled shutdown, which is set for the coming year.
These strategic initiatives are part of South Africa’s multifaceted approach to securing its energy future, ensuring a stable power supply for its citizens and businesses, and ultimately stimulating economic growth. The government’s commitment to transitioning to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources remains a key priority, along with addressing immediate energy challenges.