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Minister Ramokgopa Calls for Massive Transmission Line Expansion

by Central News Reporter
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Ramokgopa Addresses Eskom's Transmission Expansion

Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa

JOHANNESBURG – Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, the Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, has highlighted the urgent need for South Africa to construct additional transmission lines, vital to harness thousands of megawatts of new generation capacity for the nation’s power grid.

Men walk past electricity pylons as they return from work in Orlando township, Soweto, South Africa, May 21, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo
Men walk past electricity pylons as they return from work in Orlando township, Soweto, South Africa, May 21, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Speaking at Ninety One’s annual Infrastructure Forum in Johannesburg, the Minister underscored the severity of the transmission bottleneck. “The major problem is transmission issues. We need to modernise and expand transmission by over 14,000km. To put it into context, in the past 10 years, we only did 4,000km. So, this 14,000km is to enable new generation capacity [to connect to the grid],” Ramokgopa explained.

The intention behind the expansion is not just infrastructural growth but a strategic move to release the untapped clean energy potential in various provinces. “If we had sufficient transmission capacity in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Western Cape, the grid would have the benefit of over 11,000MW,” the Minister said.

Ninety One, the host of the forum and a global asset manager, resonates with the government’s plans, having a vested interest in emerging markets and the development of specialist investment teams.

Dr Ramokgopa acknowledged the promising prospects of renewable energy within the country, citing a “healthy pipeline with over 66GW that is there.” Action plans are in motion, with identified priority corridors expected to deliver a significant power surplus. “We have already identified the corridors that must be prioritized, and we know out of those corridors, we can get 2,300MW,” he affirmed.

To facilitate the realization of this potential, the Minister noted that the focus should be not only on the transmission lines themselves but also on expanding sub-station capacities. “The intervention really is less on the transmission lines and the pylons. It’s about increasing the size of the sub-stations. Once we do that, we know we can get the benefit of that 2,300MW,” Ramokgopa detailed.

In related energy sector developments, a statement released earlier this month after a high-level meeting convened by President Cyril Ramaphosa, indicated gradual improvements in power management. According to the statement, “Load shedding is down by 61% compared to the same period last year,” attributed to the return of units at Kusile power station, contributions from rooftop solar, and private sector involvement.

Further reforms echo the sentiment for positive change with the appointment of an independent board for the National Transmission Company of South Africa (NTCSA) and the initial steps being taken for the NTCSA to commence trading – marking structural advancements within the energy sector.

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