The Citizen (KZN) - - News - Er­[email protected]­i­

The an­nounce­ment by Min­eral Re­sources and En­ergy Min­is­ter Gwede Man­tashe that min­ing com­pa­nies will be al­lowed to gen­er­ate their own elec­tric­ity has res­onated with many seek­ing a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to Eskom’s er­ratic power sup­ply.

Min­ing ex­perts and politi­cians said the min­is­ter’s state­ment “made sense” and called it “good news” and “en­cour­ag­ing”.

Man­tashe de­liv­ered the keynote ad­dress of this year’s In­vest­ing in African Min­ing Ind­aba in Cape Town and his state­ment was ex­pected to be a point ref­er­ence at the ind­aba and in fu­ture dis­cus­sions on en­ergy.

Min­ing reg­u­la­tion spe­cial­ists and part­ners at Web­ber Wentzel, Jonathan Veeran and Manus Booy­sen, said they were en­cour­aged by Man­tashe’s com­ments on self-gen­er­a­tion of elec­tric­ity but would wait for the de­tails.

“In an en­vi­ron­ment of weak com­modi­ties prices and slow growth, min­ing com­pa­nies may find it dif­fi­cult to fund self-gen­er­a­tion projects. It will not be easy, un­less it is large and long-term, to put up an eco­nom­i­cally sus­tain­able en­ergy gen­er­a­tion fa­cil­ity, the ex­perts said.

“It is also pos­i­tive that the min­is­ter an­tic­i­pates com­pe­ti­tion in the elec­tric­ity in­dus­try which will have a pos­i­tive ef­fect on prices.

“But these are long-term plans, while the prob­lems fac­ing Eskom are im­me­di­ate. We are dis­ap­pointed he said noth­ing about the im­me­di­ate way for­ward and ac­tion be­ing taken with Eskom,” the ex­perts said.

Jason van der Poel, spe­cial­ist in power and en­ergy at the Sand­ton-based law firm, said the cur­rent In­te­grated Re­source Plan un­veiled by Man­tashe last year did not cap the amount of dis­trib­uted gen­er­a­tion pro­duced up to 2022. But the plan capped it at 500MW per year from 2023 to 2030.

Ac­cord­ing to Van der Poel, Man­tashe told the ind­aba that his der­part­ment and the Na­tional En­ergy Reg­u­la­tor of South Africa (Nersa), is in a process to gazette a re­vised sched­ule 2 of the Elec­tric­ity Reg­u­la­tion Act to en­able self-gen­er­a­tion and fa­cil­i­tate mu­nic­i­pal gen­er­a­tion op­tions. “We are en­cour­aged by the min­is­ter’s com­ments, but we await de­tails,” Van der Poel said.

“A key is­sue will be gen­er­ally how fast gov­ern­ment can move to har­ness gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity that is ready to be en­gaged and whether the min­is­ter will use his pow­ers un­der the Elec­tric­ity Reg­u­la­tion Act to ex­pe­dite ap­provals that may be needed by gen­er­a­tors that can pro­vide elec­tric­ity quickly,” Van der Poel said.

The Free­dom Front Plus said Man­tashe’s an­nounce­ment was good news, but cri­tised his sug­ges­tion that a new en­ter­prise fo­cus­ing on gen­er­a­tion of power must be es­tab­lished.

Spokesper­son on en­ergy Wy­nand Boshoff said his party for years ar­gued for the con­sumer pro­duc­ers of elec­tric­ity as the “best so­lu­tion” to the grow­ing prob­lem of power short­ages.

“It will en­able house­holds to not only gen­er­ate their own power, but also to earn an in­come from the sur­plus. In this way thou­sands of role­play­ers can con­trib­ute to the power grid,” said Boshoff.

The Web­ber Wentzel an­a­lysts said it was a pos­i­tive that Man­tashe was hon­est in his open­ing ad­dress in which he con­trasted global growth of 3.3% in 2020 and 3.4% in 2021 with SA’s GDP growth of be­low 1%.

“He im­me­di­ately re­ferred to the prob­lems re­sult­ing from power out­ages and that min­ing pro­duc­tion fell by 3.1% year-on-year in Novem­ber 2019. His open­ing did not paint a rosy pic­ture and ac­knowl­edged elec­tric­ity con­straints,” they said.

On pol­icy and reg­u­la­tion, Man­tashe ac­knowl­edged the need to at­tract in­vest­ment and said gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to work with the sec­tor. The ex­perts wel­comed this plan to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion on oil and gas but “we are con­cerned the new leg­is­la­tion is not con­gru­ent with the pre­vi­ous draft agreed with the in­dus­try”. –

Pic­ture: EPA-EFE

A but­ter­fly lands on a Hi­bis­cus in Cape Town. Large swarms of but­ter­flies have been seen across the Cape penin­sula drink­ing nec­tar from flow­ers in the warm sum­mer weather.

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