R800bn for energy infrastructure

25 October 2010

South Africa is to spend over R800-billion on energy infrastructure over the next few years, President Jacob Zuma said at the re-opening of the Camden power station in Mpumalanga province on Saturday.

The move to bring back out-of-commission power stations is part of state company Eskom’s massive expansion programme. The Arnot power station in Mpumalanga was the first such station to be returned to service, while the Grootvlei and Komati power stations are expected to be back to service in the next two years.

“This will help us extend Eskom’s generation capacity while progressing with the build programme,” Zuma said.

Eskom’s build programme comprises the construction and commissioning of three power stations, Medupi, Kusile and Ingula.

Situated at Lephalale in Limpopo province, the Medupi Power Station is expected to generate 4 800 megawatts on completion. The first unit will be operational by September 2012.

The Ingula station, to be based in northern KwaZulu-Natal, will generate 1 330 megawatts and is expected to be completed by the end of 2013. Kusile, to be built in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, will generate another 4 800 megawatts.

South Africa’s electricity demand was expected to double over the next 20 years, Zuma said, adding that a reliable energy supply was also a critical factor in attracting foreign investment.

The country’s mass electrification programme, which started in the 1990s, and the ongoing rapid industrialisation had placed enormous strain on energy sources, he said.

While there was sufficient generation capacity to meet the demand and reserve requirements for 2010, the country needed to work harder to improve its systems for next year and beyond.

The Camden power station was first opened in 1967 and mothballed in 1990. It is expected to contribute 1 440 megawatts of electricity to the national grid.

The re-opening of Camden has created 2 000 jobs, of which 265 are permanent.

Zuma said the electrification of households in all areas was being looked at by the government. As of 31 March 2010, over three million homes were awaiting electricity.

Zuma said the huge backlog was due to the increasing number of informal settlements and houses being built annually.

Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan reiterated that the government would work together with independent power producers to ensure that the lights were kept on in the country.

Zuma also reminded South Africans to use energy responsibly. “Let us work together to improve our energy security, as well as ensure the efficient use of this limited resource.”

SAinfo reporter and BuaNews