Reports that the Minister of Energy, Gwede Mantashe, is forging ahead with plans to set up another power generation company to rival Eskom, through repurposing old Eskom coal plants into gas power stations and building new nuclear plants, is ill-advised and will likely worsen the country’s debt burden.
South Africa does not have access to cheap gas resources to be able to power gas stations at a commercially viable scale. Using the current import prices of gas from Mozambique, retail prices per kilowatt hour of electricity generated from these gas power stations will like be unaffordable for most South Africans.
Worse still, in a move that betrays Mantashe’s lack of appreciation of the need to find short term solutions to address the current loadshedding crisis, Mantashe is now punting the possibility of building a modular nuclear plant at Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape. Nuclear power plants take years to build and South Africa does not have the money or the luxury of waiting that long for new generation capacity.
The DA has always made it clear that renewable energy from Independent Power Producers is the only viable option viable to increase potential for new generation capacity in the shortest possible time. The viability of renewable energy has been confirmed in successive bid windows, where the unit generation costs have continued to fall substantially.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, as the head of the executive, is duty bound to stop this madness by Mantashe before it locks South Africa into expensive financial commitments that have no benefit to our energy security.
Mantashe has arrogantly veered off the Energy Response Plan announced by Ramaphosa to address loadshedding and is now set on sabotaging it before it has even begun. The idea of an Eskom 2.0 is an exercise in futility and should be scrapped before it bankrupts the country.