Civil society calls for Minister Mantashe to issue determinations to address energy crisis

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In an effort to alleviate the worsening energy crisis, a growing list of South African civil society organisations have called on the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, to immediately allow new renewable energy to be built and connected to the grid.

In an open letter to the minister, they cite section 34 of the Energy Regulation Act which provides for the Minister of Energy to sign a determination before any large new generation capacity (over 100MW) can be built.

The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) of 2019 is a roadmap of the future of South Africa’s generation capacity.

It includes plans to build renewable energy plants that can provide 20,400 MW of electricity and 2,088 MW of storage by 2030.

Currently, determinations have been issued for only 6,800 MW of renewable energy and 513 MW of storage. That leaves 13,600 MW of renewables and 1,575 MW of storage for which determinations still need to be issued.

The letter states that the issuing of determinations does not need to follow the timetable set out in the IRP 2019 in cases of urgency related to energy security.

With South Africa currently experiencing stage 6 load-shedding (its worst power cuts since 2019) and the economy losing between R20 million and R100 million per hour, per stage, adding new electricity capacity to the grid has never been more urgent.

Peter Becker, a spokesperson for the Koeberg Alert Alliance, highlighted that the electricity crisis and load-shedding continue to cause human suffering and cost the economy billions.

“Renewable energy and storage have been shown to be far quicker to build than other forms of generation. If Minister Mantashe acts with urgency and carries the best interest of South Africans at heart, he should do everything in his power to add more electricity to the grid as quickly as possible. There is an urgent need for him to sign determinations for large scale wind, solar and storage capacity,” he said.

Another signee, Thando Lukuko from the South African Climate Action Network (SACAN) said: “South Africa’s electricity supply is in dire straits. We urgently need a new regime to supplement our current energy demand, and the IRP2019 provides us with an opportunity to move swiftly into action to improve the current conditions experienced by all citizens of South Africa. We strongly call on Minister Mantashe to unlock the 13GW of renewable energy and storage as approved by Cabinet in the 2019 IRP. Urgent action is now an imperative, more than ever.”

In the letter, the organisations give Minister Mantashe ten days (until 17 July) to issue this determination. If this is not fulfilled, President Ramaphosa will be urged to instruct the minister to do so immediately, as was necessary to lift the limit for companies to produce their own electricity without a licence from 1MW to 100MW.

The letter can be read here.