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South Africa reports on energy investments

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The expansion of the nuclear programme remained part of South Africa's future energy mix, according to the Economic Sectors, Employment and Infrastructure Development cluster. 

"The procurement plan for (the) 9 600MW nuclear build programme will be implemented in the next decade at a pace informed by what the country can afford," it said. 

An update was presented by the cluster on 8 March on the ongoing implementation of President Zuma's Nine Point Plan to put the country on a sustainable growth path, with the chief focus on how energy challenges could be resolved. 

The cluster is chaired by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti. It outlines progress made to stabilise electricity supply, which is a crucial resource to keep industry and business powered. 

Progress such as an Eskom maintenance programme, the restoration of the Duvha unit, the connection of Medupi unit 6 and a programme to encourage customers to use electricity sparingly, was reported. Nkwinti emphasised that there had been no load shedding since September 2015. 

The updated noted that the South African government had invested R83-billion in Eskom, including a R60-billion converted guarantee that was now a grant. Additionally, R23-billion was secured from the sale of the government's Vodacom shares that would now be used to continue investing in the Medupi and Kusile power stations. 

Renewable energy

Through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), 6 376MW of electricity had been procured, of which 2 045MW procured from 41 independent power producers was currently operational. 

Other advancements included the multiple bid windows for the REIPPPP attracting investments of R194-billion, and the procurement of 2 400MW of new coal-fired power generation capacity. 

The National Skills Fund had disbursed R96-million towards developing renewable energy training facilities at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. 

This initiative, the cluster said, sought to respond to the country's adopted strategy to promote renewable energy production in order to supplement current fossil fuel energy production. 

The fund had also set aside R204-million towards establishing work integrated learning facilities for engineering students. The project aims to provide on-the-job training for mechanical and electrical engineering students in order to obtain registration as engineers. 

Hydroelectricity and solar energy

South Africa was also sourcing 2 600MW of hydroelectric capacity from the Southern African Development Community, according to the progress report. 

The Solar Water Heater programme, which focuses on load reduction, would continue. The load reduction programme aims to retrofit approximately 200 000 domestic electric geysers with solar water heaters annually. This will reduce electricity demand in high consumption residential areas. 

Skills development

In the cluster's statement, an emphasis on job creation was also outlined, stating that "(the government) will provide skills to emerging companies and local communities to participate in various aspects of the solar water heater roll-out programme… targeting to install 38 000 units in the 2016-17 financial year". 

A new skills development pilot programme, training 300 students to install and maintain solar geysers, had been initiated in Ekurhuleni. A further R36-million had been set aside to provide training to beneficiaries in other municipalities.

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