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LISTEN: New power stations aren't enough to solve SA's electricity woes; the real challenge is the lack of capacity to distribute power where it's needed. In the latest No Ordinary Wednesday podcast, Investec Equity Analysts Herbert Kharivhe and Ross Krige discuss solutions to this transmission conundrum.

 

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Podcast highlights

  • Loadshedding in 2024?

    “I think that makes things rather interesting. But the numbers suggest it's possible, especially during the summer period. We've increased our solar capacity threefold to four gigawatts enabling meaningful downtime to perform much needed maintenance. Further, the return of Kusile units should relieve the grid somewhat.”

  • Renewable energy projects in the pipeline

    “From a generation perspective, the pipeline of prospective projects is very large. SAPIA grid survey noted 66 gigawatts of projects at various stages of development, 18 gigawatts of which are at an advanced stage. I think just the extent to which these projects can actually proceed to an operational state will be impacted by the factors such as investment, transmission and distribution. And that's an area that we also need to watch.”

  • Transmission problems

    “So the current footprint of our generation capacity is concentrated in Mpumalanga. Around  12 of our 14 coal stations are located in that province. So that means most of our transmission infrastructure is concentrated in that region. Now, with the plan or aspiration to switch into renewables, that capacity or potential is concentrated in the south, so in the Capes, and there isn't enough capacity to plug in all the wind generation, solar generation to connect into the grid. That is the big challenge right now.”

  • Funding challenges

    “There are many challenges funding, as you mentioned, and then others that are flagged in a minute. Look, maybe starting with the required build out rate. So Eskom believe that on a 10 year view, the requirement is to build 1, 400 kilometres of lines per year. Industry research as flagged by Eskom transmission themselves suggest a run rate of 800 kilometres per annum is more likely, and that's at a stretch. So very challenging. Funding will be difficult, but so is construction capacity and equipment supply.”

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