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Eskom to invest R118bn to increase transmission infrastructure

October 21, 2020

CAPE TOWN - Eskom said yesterday that it planned to invest up to R118 billion to increase transmission infrastructure as it adds 30 gigawatts (GW) of new generation capacity to the power system over the next 10 years.

The power utility said it aimed to add about 5 650km of high-voltage lines and 41 595 MVA of transformer capacity, while much of the new capacity would come from renewable energy sources, solar and wind, as determined by South Africa’s energy roadmap.

The utility yesterday shared its Transmission Development Plan (TDP) for the period 2021 to 2030 with various stakeholders during an online public forum.

Eskom plans to split up the three key areas of its business – generation, transmission and distribution – into separate entities.

Yesterday’s plans for new transmission lines represented a lower figure than the likely actual requirement, as Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter said in a speech at the Joburg Indaba earlier this month: “Through our TDP, we aim to increase the transmission infrastructure by about 6 700km of high-voltage lines and 41 000 MVA of transformer capacity in the next 10 years.”

However, according to later media reports, re-phasing and deferrals to beyond the 2025 financial year, and capital expenditure cuts, meant that only 25 percent of the required lines could be built in the next five years, and 62 percent in the following five years.

Yesterday’s public forum formed part of a consultative process that was part of Eskom’s transmission licence requirements issued by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, which calls for Eskom to publish a TDP annually.

Eskom’s group executive for transmission, Segomoco Scheppers, said some adjustments had been made to the TDP since its last publication in 2019, which included the re-phasing of capital investment in transmission projects to align them with the project execution timelines that were associated with servitude acquisitions, and current available funding.

Since the publication of the last TDP in 2019, a number of transmission substations and transformer capacity enhancement projects were commissioned to support the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer (IPP) Procurement Programme.

This was in conjunction with network strengthening.

Thirteen additional IPP projects in Bid Window 4 were integrated into the national transmission grid, providing about 866MW of energy.

The integration in the grid of these IPP projects was underpinned by investments in new substations and transformer capacity enhancements, mainly in the Northern Cape. Last month, the government gazetted the Section 34 Determination to procure 2 000MW of new emergency generation capacity between 2019 and 2022 from the IPPs. The government also gazetted the procurement of a further 11 813MW between 2022 and 2027 in a bid to unlock about R40 billion in annual investment.

“There is a clear and compelling case for significant transmission network expansion critical to connect utility-scale renewable generation projects, mainly wind and solar, in line with policy direction highlighted in the IRP2019, and the Grid Code, namely, to diversify the country’s energy mix and to provide non-discriminatory access to the grid,” said Scheppers.

Over the 10 years, 30GW of new generation capacity, mainly from renewable energy sources (photovoltaic and wind) was expected to be added to the power system.

iol