The recent Creamer Media’s SA Energy Outlook 2024 Webinar, featuring Compton Saunders, Nordex Energy South Africa MD, alongside other prominent energy leaders, provided a platform for key figures in the industry to share insights and perspectives. Facilitated by Paul O’Flaherty, Executive Director at EY-Parthenon Africa the webinar aimed to delve into the current energy landscape of South Africa and set the tone for the year ahead.

As reported by in last week’s article by Creamer Media, [], Saunders, who is also a South African Wind Energy Association board member, pointed to a possible timing mismatch for wind projects located outside of the three Cape provinces, as these were typically at a less advanced stage of development. As while there was turbine technology available for low-wind areas, Saunders said the main constraint was the time it took to progress a project to a point where it was considered to be bid-ready.

It was noted that a number of projects that are mature in the Cape provinces may take a couple of years to come on line, due to the constrained grid. The webinar also drew light on the following key points:

Renewable Energy Challenges: Bernard Magoro, head of the Independent Power Producer Office (IPPO), highlighted challenges in the renewables sector during the seventh procurement bid window. Grid constraints, spatial realities, and the aftermath of the partial failure of Bid Window Six were discussed, emphasizing the need for adjustments in project bids.

Geographic Shift in Projects: Magoro stressed the necessity for developers to explore provinces with available grid capacity, such as Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal. The discussion touched on the potential premium for projects outside the traditional Cape regions and the time constraints faced by less mature projects in non-constrained grid areas.

Grid Connection Challenges: Mamiki Matlawa of ACTOM Energy and Vaughan Hattingh of MDA Attorney’s highlighted grid connection challenges as areas requiring urgent attention and intensified stakeholder engagement. Matlawa expressed a desire for an accelerated grid roll-out to stimulate local manufacturing and construction industries, while Hattingh emphasized the need for an improved contracting process.

Government and Eskom Engagement: James Mackay, CEO of the Energy Council, provided insights into the high-level attention given to grid issues by the National Energy Crisis Committee, established by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Mackay underscored the importance of addressing loadshedding as a priority to rebuild trust and confidence, noting ongoing engagements with both government and Eskom.

Path to End Loadshedding: Mackay outlined a scenario suggesting that, with a stabilized Eskom coal fleet and ongoing investment and reform programmes, loadshedding could potentially be ended by the end of 2024. The importance of collaborative engagement and societal perspective was highlighted in this context.

Call for Collaboration: Paul O’Flaherty emphasized the urgency of re-establishing security of supply and the need for collective efforts to address the challenges in the energy sector. The collaborative approach was underlined as essential for achieving solutions and ensuring a stable energy future.