South Africa signs three wind power deals to ease outages

Thursday September 22 2022
Lake Turkana Wind Power project in Laisamis, Marsabit County.

Lake Turkana Wind Power project in Laisamis, Marsabit County, Kenya. The coal-dependent South Africa has signed agreements with three of 25 wind and solar projects. FILE PHOTO | NMG


South Africa on Thursday inked the first three of a series of agreements with independent producers to supply wind energy amid worsening blackouts in the continent's most industrialised economy.

The coal-dependent country picked 25 wind and solar projects to generate a total of 2,583 megawatts, a boost of roughly 4.5 percent on current capacity.

The first projects are not expected to come on line before the end of 2024.

South Africa's state-owned power utility Eskom which has for decades held a monopoly on power production and distribution, currently generates a daily average 26,000MW of electricity against national demand of 32,000MW, according to widely cited figures.

The national statistics agency StatsSA said in a report earlier that electricity production dipped by 7.7 percent in July compared to the same time last year.

Read: Why South Africa suffers persistent blackouts


Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe signed the deals on Thursday.

Eskom has been implementing power cuts for the past 15 years.

Ageing and poorly maintained coal-fired plants and years of mismanagement and corruption have left Eskom unable to produce enough energy to meet demand.

South Africa produces 80 percent of its electricity from coal.

Official data earlier this month confirmed that GDP shrank partly owing to the energy crisis.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who cut short his trip to the US on Tuesday to return home from the Queens' burial in London to address the power crisis, announced in July that his government would open up to private investments in the electricity sector in a desperate attempt to end the frustrating cuts.

He also said the country which already imports electricity around 200MW from some of its neighbours when the grid is constrained, would buy more from Botswana and Zambia.