South Africa’s government has asked the country’s power utility Eskom for the cheapest and quickest options to ease the power crisis.
This was disclosed as the cabinet held an emergency meeting to try and resolve the power crisis threatening the country’s economic growth.
President Cyril Ramaphosa called for the meeting after Eskom implemented the most extensive power cuts in more than a decade disrupting power supply to businesses and households.
Eskom, which cut power for a ninth straight day on Friday, is choking under a massive 450 billion-rand debt burden, and struggles to meet demand. The state-owned utility says the country desperately needs an additional 5,000 megawatts of generating capacity.
Ramaphosa had earlier said that Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan will present proposals on solving the crisis to the cabinet. This announcement came after the outages forced some miners to temporarily cut output early this week.
Roger Baxter, chief executive of industry group, the Minerals Council, said that miners could bring online between 500 and 1,500MW of their own generating capacity over the next few years. This is if regulations are eased.
Firms are to reply by the end of January and present options that could be connected to the grid within 3 to 6 months or 6 to 12 months, if they are selected in a procurement process.
Some of the proposals being considered by the cabinet include fast-tracking applications of businesses seeking to generate their own electricity, bringing in temporary generators and connecting renewable energy projects to the grid sooner than initially planned.
Private firms have been clamouring for years for the government to ease regulations to allow them to generate more of their own electricity.
However, power cuts are expected to ease from the middle of next week, as many local businesses have already shut down for the Christmas and New Year public holidays.
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