Doors to mining opened by women engineers and scientists
Women working as consulting engineers and scientists are opening doors of opportunity in mining, breaking down discriminatory attitudes and creating role models for the future.
According to Vis Reddy, managing director of SRK Consulting, the consulting engineering sector has been an important contributor to gender transformation in mining.
“The growing number of women in SRK Consulting who occupy senior professional and leadership positions helps to set benchmarks in the sector,” said Reddy. “We hope to be sending out the right message of gender equality, as industry sees the critical role that women are now playing in advising clients on important technical and other issues.”
Change of this magnitude, however, does not happen on its own, he warned. It requires constant and ongoing commitment to removing barriers and supporting professional growth among young professionals.
“Starting with a focus on merit and capability, we continue working internally to make our business a place where women work as equals and can advance according to their contribution,” he said. “It is also vital that we support external initiatives for women in mining; in the long run, these are key to making the sector more attractive as career opportunity.”
SRK has engaged actively with the International Women in Mining Mentorship Programme, putting forward its own staff as mentors and mentees while also sponsoring the organisation as a whole. Reddy himself is mentoring technical services manager working for a gold mining company based in Greece, who is expanding her professional role into leadership. Younger engineers and scientists within SRK are also being mentored by experienced leaders in the sector.
Years of steady progress have seen the proportion of women at partner level within the company rise to almost 20%. Faster progress is on the horizon, with most of SRK’s associate partners now being women – indicating a strong supply line for leadership for the future.
“With two women on our board, including our financial director, we have made encouraging progress,” he said. “Of our production units, two out of eight are headed by women, and four of our seven support departments are led by women.”
He highlighted that transformation efforts needed to be multi-faceted, including racial diversity. This was all part of making the workplace more inclusive – which in turn could change people’s perception of mining.
“It wasn’t too long ago that mining – and even SRK and the consulting engineering sector itself – was very male-dominated, and with white males at that,” he noted. “As this changes, mining will undoubtedly become a more inviting environment for a broader spectrum of our skilled workforce – where the advancement opportunities for women, for instance, is more clearly visible among the leadership.”
Standard Bank welcomes president’s call for private sector energy generation
Innovative platform enables any enterprise to sell energy
The South African president’s recent removal of the licensing threshold on embedded private generation, the announcement of feed-in electricity tariffs for the outright purchase of privately generated electricity, tax incentives for the construction of commercial generation installations, and a virtual – albeit temporary – scrapping of private power generation application red tape, marks a watershed in South Africa’s 14-year struggle against the socially and economically crippling onslaught of loadshedding and persistent energy insecurity.
While the country breathes a collective sigh of relief that a comprehensive and broadly inclusive plan is finally on the table, “the effectiveness of these bold initiatives depends on how quickly they can be implemented, and how successfully the expertise available in South Africa’s private sector can mobilise and gear capital in the development of an environmentally and financially sustainable public-private energy future,” says Berrie de Jager, Head of Natural Resources at Standard Bank’s Business and Commercial Clients division.
Kick-starting stalled construction on bid window five independent power producer projects by addressing impractical local procurement requirements, doubling the size of bid window six projects from 2 600MW to 5 200MW, issuing requests for proposals for battery storage, as well as the review and speeding up of Integrated Resource Plan allocations, are significant developments that the country’s existing energy sector should leverage – and take to scale – with alacrity. “The funding mechanisms and capital structures enabling these projects have long been in place. They are proven and are working well in the formal, relatively restricted, public-private renewable generation sector,” observes de Jager.
What is most exciting about the president’s recent announcement, however, is the new opportunity that these pronouncements present in the decentralised energy generation space, that is “the niche and entirely untapped energy market that sits behind the Eskom or municipal meter,” says de Jager.
Making this space available for general investment for the first time means that almost any business in any sector can now potentially generate – and sell – any amount of energy to the grid. In short, once the required regulatory adjustments are made, energy production, sale and trading will no longer be the preserve of the state and its exclusive and very limited circle of approved energy partners.
Instead, if South Africa urgently implements the reforms promised on Monday night, “investment in the country’s energy market will expand exponentially, allowing all manner of innovative combinations of energy generation, sale and supply,” predicts de Jager. From malls to mines, hotels to hospitals, and farms to factories – every business or even small enterprise might soon be participating in the generation and sale of electricity.
While Eskom will retain control through a soon-to-be spun off transmission entity regulating and controlling the trading and transmission of energy across the grid, “the key challenge for South African businesses wishing to participate in the country’s new energy market is managing the financing, construction delays and cost overruns that typically plague private generation projects,” reports de Jager. Poor quality energy generation technology investments are another common pitfall preventing businesses with no knowledge of energy generation from reaching cash-neutrality as quickly as possible.
To help businesses manage the operational and reputational challenges associated with independent energy generation, Standard Bank has developed a digital platform to support clients in procuring high quality and financially sound Solar Photo Voltaic solutions.
Even before the president’s recent announcement, “we designed PowerPulse as a digital platform to empower ordinary businesses to produce, deliver, consume and trade energy,” says de Jager. Whether you are a financial executive looking to manage energy costs, feel overwhelmed by the jargon and complexity of technical solutions, or are simply unsure of which providers to use, PowerPulse provides the answer. “PowerPulse even assists with financial modelling, delivering a report which can be used to justify renewable energy investments to boards or investors,” adds de Jager.
In Standard Bank’s experience, a key need for any business thinking of building an independent energy generating and trading capability includes accessing and shortlisting accredited engineering, procurement and construction partners. Introductions to specialist concierge teams to guide the process is also critical for businesses whose core capability is not energy. As such, PowerPulse is also linked to solar photo voltaic and other technical knowledge bases across the energy value chain, “connecting client enterprises with the specialist energy experts, advice and resources that they may require,” reports de Jager.
Supported by this kind of energy procurement and build capability ecosystem, “any businesses can confidently add an energy income stream to their existing operations or infrastructure,” says de Jager.
Moreover, knowing that clients are being guided by PowerPulse provides Standard Bank with the confidence to provide funding support to as many clients as possible, “heeding the president’s call to contribute to South Africa’s future energy security in a profitable and sustainable manner,” concludes de Jager.
De Lille on opening RFP for Integrated Renewable Energy and Resource Efficiency Programme
27 Jul 2022
Request for Proposal (RFP) to open for the Integrated Renewable Energy and Resource Efficiency Programme (iREREP) to generate revenue and savings across the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) property portfolio.
Following the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday evening on actions to address the electricity crisis, I am pleased to announce that The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), supported by National Treasury’s Government Technical Advisory Centre’s (GTAC) transactional advisor is today announcing its intention to publish the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the commencement of the Integrated Renewable Energy and Resource Efficiency Programme (iREREP).
I am delighted to announce the release of the RFP in the next week for the procurement of the Programme, which will be the largest programme for the procurement of renewable energy and resource efficiency for public facilities.
The DPWI as the largest landlord and facilities manager in the country, has a responsibility to not only deliver and manage quality infrastructure but to combat climate change and enhance sustainable development through its mandate – such as providing buildings for government service delivery.
We have a duty to implement programmes to reduce electricity demand and encourage energy efficient use by consumers as articulated by President Ramaphosa on Monday.
This programme is a Strategic Integrated Project (SIP), Number 28, known as the Photovoltaic (PV) and Water Savings on Government Buildings Programme. The project was gazetted as a SIP on the 24th of July 2020 as part of a credible pipeline of projects in the Infrastructure Investment Plan which was approved by Cabinet in May 2020.
The Programme will thrust South Africa along an environmentally sustainable path, while contributing significantly to social and economic development; energy and water security of supply; budget sustainability; and improved governance of utilities.
Considering the challenges to our economy, the persistent energy crisis, water shortages and effects of climate change, our aim must be to ensure that our investment achieves economic growth and transformation to improve the lives of citizens and fast-track development.
Prior to the RFP, the Department undertook and issued a Request for Information (RFI) on the 20th of September 2021 with the submission date for responses on the 20th of October 2021 which subsequently informed the drafting of the RFP. The RFI allowed the Department to gain additional market insights that will drive the implementation of the Programme, as well as provided an understanding of the appetite and readiness of the market to participate in this Programme.
Fifty-eight (58) submissions were received through the RFI process of which 19% were international respondents and 81% were local respondents. Accordingly, this has enhanced our understanding as well as assisted us to embed a better regulatory and eligibility criterion.
In recognising that this is the first of its kind, we have taken time to collate and prepare the necessary information to address the critical areas and questions raised through the RFI. In addition, we have taken the necessary steps to ensure that we adhere to the relevant approval processes. These steps include:
Hosting workshops with participating stakeholders to enable the successful roll-out across provincial and national government, including the DPWI and its regions.
Undertaking Resource Audits which serve as inputs for the current RFP process. The current procurement round will see the Department release a bundle of projects into the market.
Additional resource audits have commenced in preparation for the next round of projects that will see the Department releasing additional projects within the next 6 to 24 months to market in various batches. This programmatic approach to procurement will ensure that we create the necessary momentum and certainty that will allow for the development of a vibrant resource services company market, development of skills, job creation and the achievement of a number of other programme objectives.
Engaging with various stakeholders to obtain the approvals required to create an enabling environment and ensure proper governance structures and ensuring that the procurement processes are in place and adhered to. In this regard, consensus exists within Government and we are entering into the necessary agreements with our User Departments for their participation.
The Programme has conceptualised a dedicated funding mechanism to support local participation and SMME involvement, including women and youth. Furthermore, key institutions have expressed their interest in becoming finance partners to the project, both locally and internationally in the development financing market, as well as the commercial market.
RFP information requested
The RFP will be open to the public with information requested from the respondents focussing on four key areas, namely: Legal, Technical, Finance and Economic Development. The information requested in respect of each of these key areas is detailed in the RFP.
To facilitate the preparation and submission of the Responses, the Department through GTAC will be releasing the RFP, in the coming week, on the following websites: www.etenders.gov.za and the www.irerep.co.za website. Interested parties may download the RFP (and related documents) and obtain information pertaining to the Programme.
We encourage all private sector participants across renewable energy, energy and water efficiency, alternative waste management sectors and through their various roles including prospective Bidders, prospective sponsors, lenders, local manufacturers, prospective suppliers, prospective advisors and other interested parties to participate in the RFP as we further cement partnerships between Government and the Private Sector.
We want to champion innovation and be an anchor for new smart technologies, expanding our mix and solutions beyond the proven technologies. We have therefore developed a section on the website where bidders will be able to upload their project videos and images to showcase their technologies. This Programme bears testimony to our commitment of putting the Infrastructure Investment Plan in action and contributes to our goals of achieving the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.
On Thursday, I will also be hosting a conference with all the private landlords which DPWI rents office space from to engage them on the need to reduce energy demands. Our appeal will be for all landlords to make their buildings more energy and water efficient in line with the President’s call and to assist in cost and energy efficiencies that will help our economy for many years to come.
We are excited to accelerate this journey of bringing greater innovation and resource efficiency into our government buildings that not only seeks to mitigate against climate change but achieve significant financial savings that can be diverted to other government priorities. We firmly believe that this will go a long way in contributing towards the strategies of demand management in the energy consumption.
The load shared: Ramaphosa calls for South Africans to be part of solution
25 July 2022
President on actions to address the electricity crisis in SA. He calls for all South Africans to be part of the solution; to contribute in whatever way they can to end energy scarcity.
Fellow South Africans,
Tonight, I want to address you about the energy crisis that is confronting our nation.
During the past three weeks, severe load shedding has disrupted all of our lives and caused immense damage to our economy.
The daily power cuts we have been experiencing have inconvenienced millions of households and have presented huge challenges for businesses.
After more than a decade without a reliable electricity supply, South Africans are justifiably frustrated and angry.
They are fed up.
We have therefore developed a set of actions to respond to the crisis.
The crisis that we are facing requires that we should take bold, courageous and decisive action to close the electricity gap.
This is a call for all South Africans to be part of the solution; to contribute in whatever way they can to ending energy scarcity in South Africa.
As government we are announcing a number of interventions to overcome the immediate crisis.
In the past 10 days, I have held extensive discussions with the Eskom executive management, power station managers and former Eskom personnel.
I have also met with labour federations, Business Unity South Africa, the Black Business Council, community representatives and several experts in the energy sector. This morning, I also met political party leaders.
I am grateful for the valuable proposals made by all those we have met.
These meetings have helped to shape our response and ensure that all sections of South African society are involved in solving this problem, as this is a national crisis.
All the people I have spoken to have said this is the time when the country must unite to address this challenge.
The set of additional actions I am announcing this evening:
Firstly, are aimed at improving the performance Eskom’s existing fleet of power stations;
Secondly, will accelerate the procurement of new generation capacity;
Thirdly, are intended to massively increase private investment in generation capacity;
Fourthly, are designed to enable businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar; and,
Finally, are directed at fundamentally transforming the electricity sector and positioning it for future sustainability.
Fellow South Africans,
For our response to be effective, we need to understand the problem.
South Africa has installed capacity to produce approximately 46,000 MW of electricity, and at peak times we use about 32,000 MW of electricity.
However, only 60% of this installed capacity is available at any given time due to some units going through planned maintenance and others having unplanned outages.
Many of our power stations were built many years ago.
The average age of Eskom’s power stations is 35 years. Generally as power stations get older, their performance deteriorates.
The construction of our newest power stations, Medupi and Kusile, started late and they have experienced several delays and some design flaws.
These challenges are being addressed.
As a result of this, Eskom deferred essential maintenance to keep the lights on, which is causing breakdowns and failures now.
The performance of some of Eskom’s power stations have been further worsened by extensive theft, fraud and sabotage.
After years of state capture and mismanagement, a capable and effective management team is working hard to turn the utility around and reverse years of decay.
However, as things stand, we are still faced with an electricity shortage of up to 6,000 MW.
In recent weeks, a combination of factors resulted in 18,000 MW of generation capacity being lost, and forced Eskom to implement stage 6 load shedding.
Eskom has to implement load shedding to prevent the electricity grid from collapsing, and to ensure that we never experience a complete blackout.
The factors that led to the latest load shedding included a number unit breakdowns at some power stations.
We also experienced damage to the transmission line from Cahora Bassa in Mozambique and there were also instances reported of deliberate damage to equipment.
Teams within Eskom have worked hard to bring generation units back online and stabilise the national grid.
As a result of their efforts, the system outlook has improved over the past week.
The agreement reached between Eskom and workers has allowed critical repairs to the units that had broken down to be undertaken and normal electricity generation operations to resume.
Progress has also been made by law enforcement agencies in tackling sabotage, theft and fraud at Eskom’s power stations and other key installations.
While these actions to stabilise electricity generation have brought relief from the current load shedding, the system remains vulnerable and unreliable.
The shortage of electricity is a huge constraint on economic growth and job creation.
It deters investment and reduces our economy’s competitiveness.
As this administration, we have already taken important steps to increase generation capacity and diversify our energy supply.
One of the first steps we took to address the electricity shortfall was to revive the renewable energy procurement programme in 2018.
Since then, over 2,000 MW of solar and wind power has been connected to the grid through Bid Window 4 of the programme.
A further 2,600 MW of capacity has been procured through Bid Window 5, which will begin to add capacity from early 2024.
We have started to diversify generation by allowing parties other than Eskom to generate electricity.
In June last year, we raised the licensing threshold for new embedded generation projects from 1 MW to 100 MW.
This removed the licensing requirement for generation projects up to 100 MW that are connected to the grid.
This measure enabled these generators to have the ability to sell electricity to one or more customers, such as factories, mines or data centres.
We also changed the regulations to allow municipalities to procure power independently.
A number of municipalities are already in the process of doing so.
Eskom recently made land available next to its power stations in Mpumalanga for renewable energy projects, which will unlock 1,800 MW of new capacity.
Eskom has identified additional land that will be released for this purpose.
These actions are significant and they will make a difference over the coming months and years.
What the most recent load shedding has made clear, however, is that the actions we have taken and continue to take are not enough.
We are therefore implementing additional measures to achieve long-term energy security and end load shedding for good.
First, we are fixing Eskom and improving the performance of our existing fleet of power stations.
Over time, the maintenance programme of Eskom’s electricity generation fleet has declined.
It is now been decided that over the next 12 months, Eskom will increase the budget allocated for critical maintenance to increase the reliability of its generation capacity.
We are cutting red tape that has made it difficult for Eskom to buy maintenance spares and equipment within the required period to effect repairs.
One of the challenges that Eskom has faced has been the shortage of skilled personnel and engineers.
The utility is now recruiting skilled personnel, including former senior Eskom plant managers and engineers from the private sector.
These skilled personnel will support various personnel and help to ensure that world-class operating and maintenance procedures are reinstated.
Over the next three months, Eskom will take additional actions to add new generation capacity to the grid on an urgent basis.
As an immediate measure, surplus capacity will be bought from existing independent power producers.
These are power plants which built more capacity than was required and can now supply this excess power to Eskom.
As part of addressing the shortage of megawatts, Eskom will now also purchase additional energy from existing private generators such as mines, paper mills, shopping centres and other private entities that have surplus power.
A number of our neighbouring countries in Southern Africa, such as Botswana and Zambia, have more electricity capacity than they require.
Eskom will now import power from these countries through the Southern African Power Pool arrangement.
Eskom will also use interim power solutions, such as mobile generators, to supplement current generation capacity for a limited period.
Eskom will implement a programme that encourages efficient energy use by consumers to reduce demand at peak times.
We have spoken in the past about Eskom’s huge debt, which stands at close to R400 billion.
The debt continues to be a huge burden on Eskom’s ability to address its many challenges.
The National Treasury is working to finalise a sustainable solution to Eskom’s debt.
The Minister of Finance will outline how government will deal with this matter in an effective manner when he presents the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in October.
We will use climate funding provided through the Just Energy Transition Partnership to invest in the grid and repurpose power stations that have reached the end of their lives.
Eskom will be constructing its first solar and battery storage projects at Komati, Majuba, Lethabo and several other power stations. These will result in over 500 MW being added to the system.
The South African Police Service has set up a special law enforcement team to help Eskom in confronting crime and corruption.
A number people have been arrested in recent days and several others are already being prosecuted for corruption and fraud involving Eskom contracts.
With improvements in the regulatory environment and mobilisation of society, Eskom will be well positioned to carry out its maintenance and investment programmes.
There can be no longer any excuses.
These steps will allow us to limit load shedding to lower stages and reduce the risk of such severe load shedding in future.
To end load shedding, however, we need to urgently add much, much more capacity to the grid.
Our second priority is therefore to accelerate the procurement of new capacity from renewables, gas and battery storage.
The relevant government departments are working together to ensure that all projects from Bid Window 5 of the renewable energy programme can start construction on schedule.
This includes taking a pragmatic approach to the local content requirements for these projects, prioritising the need to build new capacity as quickly as possible.
The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition together with the Independent Power Producers Office will provide further details in this regard within the coming days.
The amount of new generation capacity procured through Bid Window 6 for wind and solar power will be doubled from 2,600 MW to 5,200 MW.
We will release a request for proposals for battery storage by September this year, and a further request for gas power as soon as possible thereafter
The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy will issue a determination for the remaining allocations in the Integrated Resource Plan 2019, and will open further bid windows on an expedited basis.
To ensure effective planning, the country’s Integrated Resource Plan is being reviewed to reflect the need for additional generation capacity and our climate commitments.
Third, we are accelerating greater private investment in generation capacity.
Last year we announced the raising of the licensing threshold to 100 MW.
This move was widely welcomed. It has unlocked a pipeline of more than 80 confirmed private sector projects with a combined capacity of over 6,000 MW.
We are already working together with industry to accelerate the most advanced projects, several of which are already entering construction.
These changes have fundamentally changed the generation landscape.
Following the success of this reform and the enthusiasm shown by the private sector, we will remove the licensing threshold for embedded generation completely.
This will enable private investment in electricity generation to rise to higher levels.
While they will not require licences, all new generation projects will still have to register with the regulator and comply with the technical requirements for grid connection and our environmental legislation.
One of our greatest challenges in adding capacity to the grid is the time that it takes for any energy project to receive the necessary approvals and commence construction.
The process, from design to commercial operation, has tended to take more than three years due to lengthy regulatory processes and red tape.
While existing legislation may be sufficient in ordinary times, the current crisis requires that we act decisively and more speedily.
We will therefore be tabling special legislation in Parliament on an expedited basis to address the legal and regulatory obstacles to new generation capacity for a limited period.
We raised this matter this morning with leaders of political parties represented in the National Assembly.
There was broad agreement that this process should be hastened once the special legislation is tabled in Parliament.
We will in the meantime waive or streamline certain regulatory requirements where it is possible to do so within existing legislation.
This includes reducing the regulatory requirements for solar projects in areas of low and medium environmental sensitivity.
It also means Eskom can expand power lines and substations without needing to get environmental authorisation in areas of low and medium sensitivity and within the strategic electricity corridors.
We are also establishing a single point of entry for all energy project applications, to ensure coordination of approval processes across government.
I have instructed departments and entities to review all existing time frames and to ensure we process all applications on an urgent basis.
These measures are preferable to declaring a state of disaster or even emergency, as some have suggested.
These interventions will allow us do what is necessary to accelerate new generation capacity while protecting the rights of all South Africans and upholding the rule of law.
We do not need a state of emergency or national disaster to implement common sense regulations that should help in resolving our energy crisis.
Fourth, we intend to enable businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar.
South Africa has great abundance of sun which we should use to generate electricity.
There is significant potential for households and businesses to install rooftop solar and connect this power to the grid.
To incentivise greater uptake of rooftop solar, Eskom will develop rules and a pricing structure – known as a feed-in tariff – for all commercial and residential installations on its network.
This means that those who can and have installed solar panels in their homes or businesses will be able to sell surplus power they don’t need to Eskom.
We call on all South Africans to use electricity sparingly as we work towards ending load shedding and getting more energy on the grid.
Finally, we are fundamentally transforming the electricity sector and positioning it for future sustainability.
We have spoken in the past about restructuring Eskom, which will result in three entities, namely an electricity generation entity, an electricity transmission entity and an electricity distribution entity.
Eskom has established an independent transmission company and is on track to separate its generation and distribution businesses by the end of 2022.
We will soon be appointing boards for the transmission and generation entities.
Broader reforms to establish a competitive electricity market will be expedited through the finalisation of the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill to enable private sector investment.
These changes will radically transform the structure of the electricity sector for future generations.
Many other countries have taken this route and have been able to stabilise electricity generation.
They will diversify our energy sources and improve the security of supply.
These changes will allow more generators, both private and state-owned, to compete on an equal footing.
The grid will remain state-owned.
Eskom will continue to be the mainstay of our country’s energy industry as we improve its efficiency, financial sustainability and performance.
To ensure that these measures are implemented in a coordinated manner, I have established a National Energy Crisis Committee.
The committee is chaired by the Director-General in the Presidency, and brings together all the departments and entities involved in the provision of electricity.
The National Energy Crisis Committee will draw on the best available expertise from business, labour, professional engineering entities and community-based organisations.
The relevant Ministers will report to me directly on a regular basis to ensure that we move quickly to implement these actions.
Fellow South Africans,
The measures I have outlined are not just to address our immediate constraints.
Our ultimate objective is to achieve long-term energy security, so that we never have to experience an electricity shortage again.
We aim to do this by stabilising Eskom and improving plant performance, establishing a competitive electricity market, opening the way for private investment in new generation capacity and increasing our investment in renewables.
These measures are necessary to revive economic growth and create jobs.
In the process, we will position our country as a leading player in the transition to new and sustainable energy sources, turning this crisis into an opportunity for future growth and resilience.
Just as government will play its part, I call on business, labour and all of society to join us in this effort.
This includes urgent implementation of the Eskom Social Compact and reinforcing the commitments and concrete steps to be taken by all social partners.
Just as we rallied behind the national effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, so too must we now contribute wherever we can.
As households we can use electricity sparingly.
We must pay for services and prevent illegal connections.
We must join in a massive rollout of rooftop solar and contribute to the solution.
Business needs to reduce its consumption through greater energy efficiency.
Business should seize the opportunities that have been created and invest in generation projects.
Labour should engage in a spirit of partnership, mindful that achieving energy security is the most important thing we can do to protect existing jobs and create new ones.
Last weekend, I visited the Tutuka power station in Mpumalanga, whose performance has been badly affected by criminal activities.
We heard of maintenance spares being stolen and sold back to Tutuka and other power stations.
We were told of ongoing theft of oil in a massive scale and the deliberate damaging of equipment so that Eskom should hire equipment from private contractors.
What is happening at Tutuka and other power stations is deliberate sabotage by well-organised criminal syndicates that are destroying the utility and damaging our economy.
After my visit to Tutuka, I met with all of Eskom’s power station managers.
I was impressed with the diversity of this group of men and women and their commitment to getting in the right skills and ensuring adherence to a maintenance philosophy.
We owe the teams at these power stations a debt of gratitude for their actions.
They set a fine example for the rest of us.
The measures we are announcing this evening, together with the steps we have already taken, will hasten the end of load shedding.
They will put our country on a clear path towards reliable, affordable and sustainable energy supply.
If we work together, if we hold each other to account, if we meet our deadlines and fulfil our commitments, we will end the energy crisis and create the conditions for growth and job creation.
More than that, we will show that we are up to the challenge of rebuilding our beloved country.
Minister Creecy brings contextual clarity to section 24h registration authority regulations
3 Aug 2022
The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has published the amendments to the section 24H regulations, which were gazetted for public consultation on 31 December 2021, for implementation. Comments on the proposed amendments have been duly considered, and the Regulations were revised accordingly.
The amendments are required in order to provide contextual clarity, certainty on who is required to be registered as an environmental assessment practitioner (EAP) and by when, specify tasks that can only be performed by a registered EAP and to address potential implementation challenges.
The amendments require the registration of EAPs responsible for NEMA environmental authorisation (EA), section 24G of NEMA and waste management license (WML) application processes, and specify tasks that may only be performed by a registered EAP for those categories.
The amendments to the Regulations furthermore explicitly exclude certain role-players in the NEMA EA, NEMA Section 24G and WML application processes from the requirement to be registered based on reasons of rationality and practicality. These include persons that take the final decisions on applications such as the Ministers responsible for the environmental and mineral resources, Members of the Executive Council (MECs), Director-Generals (DGs) of the DFFE and the DMRE, Heads of Departments (HODs) or persons acting in any of those positions; persons who provide comments on documents; and persons who investigate, assess, or prepare specialist reports.
The amendments will not limit or exclude the participation of any person in the public participation processes for applications that fall within the scope of the Regulations, but will advance the professionalisation of the EAP sector.
The deadline for the compulsory registration of EAPs performing the specified tasks is 8 August 2022.
Zondo Report demonstrates the chair’s vital governance role
On one level, the Zondo Report reads like an over-the-top morality tale about the perils of poor governance. In this morality tale, the villain is frequently the chair of the captured state-owned enterprise.
This is particularly ironic because it is the chair who is supposed to be the apex of the governance structure, the very person charged with ensuring the organisation is run on ethical and effective lines, says Parmi Natesan, CEO, Institute of Directors in South Africa (IoDSA). “When one reads what went wrong at South African Airways, South African Airways Technical, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, Transnet and others, it seems that a chair played a crucial role in either facilitating corruption or actively participating in it,” she says. “The Zondo Report is at once an indictment of these leaders but also a powerful demonstration of how important the chair’s role is—and thus how important it is to understand how chairs are supposed to act.”
The final Zondo Report contains two graphic illustrations of the ways in which chairs can cause damage. In relation to the former chair of South African Airways, the report says: “Ms Myeni knowingly misrepresented to the Minister of Public Enterprises that the Board of SAA had taken two decisions when it had not. Those misrepresentations caused financial losses to SAA. It is likely that her conduct constitutes the crime of fraud.”
In relation to another SOE chair, it states, “Ms Yakhe Kwinana, received payments from JM Aviation around the time that these decisions were taken. The payments were likely kick-back payments to these officials.”
As a leader of the governing body, the chair plays a crucial role in the ability of the organisation to set and realise its strategic goals. The chair should be independent and non-executive. In line with its non-prescriptive approach, King IV does not provide detailed guidance on what the proper role of the chair should be; that has been fleshed out in practice notes created by the IoDSA.
The chair’s core role is to lead the governing body. The performance of the governing body is thus ultimately the responsibility of the chair; conversely, the chair needs to enjoy the confidence and support of his or her board colleagues. As such, he or she is accountable to the board.
“Clearly, an incompetent or unethical chair can compromise the whole governance structure. In that case, though, it becomes incumbent on the board to raise the alarm even if, as in the case of our SOEs, best-practice governance is not followed because of the overwhelming power of the state as the sole shareholder,” she explains.
Given the importance of the chair’s role, King IV took the innovative step of recommending that a lead independent director be appointed in every case, even if the chair is deemed independent. According to Ansie Ramalho, chair of the King Committee, the thinking of the King Committee was that a lead independent was necessary to strengthen the effectiveness and independence of the board. Having a lead independent director offers support for the chair in that the incumbent in this position could serve as a sounding board if called upon by the chair.
At the same time, having the position in place is a mitigation against the possibility of a rogue or domineering chair, says Ramalho. In particular, the lead independent oversees the regular evaluation of the chair’s performance and acts as a conduit between the rest of the board and the chair in the event of there being an issue of some sort between the chair and board.
“One might well imagine that if the SOE boards had a strong lead independent director, there might have been some change of reining in rogue chairs,” Natesan ends. “In any event, a read through of the Zondo Report is convincing evidence that it’s vital to have a good governance structure in place, and that begins with the right chair.”
South Africa’s power utility, Eskom, has not been able to provide a steady electricity supply for several years now. At the start of the 2022 winter the utility warned the public to expect up to 100 days with rolling power outages. At the end of June there was at times a 6 00MW shortfall in electricity supply, which corresponds to about 20% of the evening peak demand.
While there is consensus that new electricity generating plants are urgently needed to minimise power outages, there are radically differing views on how this is best achieved. The official electricity plan approved three years ago is already out of date. Its implementation is furthermore two years behind schedule. One widely promoted view is that increasing electricity generating capacity requires grand scale new renewable energy developments. In 2020 the electricity generated from renewables amounted to a mere 10.5% of the South African national total. This will have grown to about 11.5% as more plants have been completed.
The country’s power generation is still dominated by coal. And it’s lagging far behind the global trend towards clean energy.
Most people associate renewable energy exclusively with wind and solar energy, but it includes all technologies that don’t process non-replaceable fossil fuels. Fossils include coal, oil, gas and minerals (for example the uranium used in nuclear energy).
Hydropower stations, which extract electricity from the downhill flow of water, are a renewable energy source. This is the major source of electricity in water rich countries like Norway, but only a limited option in drier climates. When water needs to be retained in dams during times of drought then no electricity production is possible.
Other renewable energy technologies like geothermal and tidal power generation work in select localities that are not common in South Africa.
This leaves wind and solar. These sources currently make up about 8% of South Africa’s energy mix.
Wind and solar power
Wind and solar power are very attractive because:
South Africa has some of the best solar and wind resources in the world. Solar and wind plants already produce electricity very effectively in many cloudier and less windy environments than South Africa.
Solar and wind plants can be built in less than two years. But the pre-construction processes – bidding, approvals and such – stretch completion times by at least another year.
Running costs are very low as there are effectively no fuel purchases. Prices of solar and wind technology have dropped very sharply in the past 10 years. The cost – including building and other expenses – of solar and wind electricity is now well below the corresponding expenses for electricity from gas, nuclear and even coal.
Solar and wind power however have obvious drawbacks. The main one is that their operational capacity entirely depends on the weather. Furthermore, solar energy production is linked to the day-night cycle, with maximum efficiency around noon. This doesn’t coincide with the electricity demand peaks in the early morning and early evening.
Could renewable energy dominate?
The ideal of a national electricity generation network without greenhouse gas emitting coal, gas plants and radioactive waste generating nuclear plants has practically already been achieved in a number of medium-sized countries such as Costa Rica, Iceland and Paraguay. But these mainly rely on hydropower.
Several larger countries, such as Germany, now generate over half of their electricity from renewables. More countries are setting road-maps to achieve 100% renewable electricity.
In theory, with South Africa’s wind and solar resources superior to other countries with 100% renewable electricity ambitions, this should be a relatively easy target to reach. But other countries are often grid connected to neighbours with significant power production. This means they can draw on these when weather conditions are unfavourable.
That is why a renewable electricity system can’t become the dominant power source in South Africa until electricity storage technologies become practical and economical.
A target of 50% electricity from renewables is however perfectly feasible. It’s the minimum that the country should aspire to. Even the 2019 electricity plan projected this would happen by 2050.
Renewable energy in South Africa
Considering the climatic advantage, the fraction of electricity generated from renewable energy technologies is surprisingly low. Despite this small fraction, there is significant hostility to renewable developments in some quarters. Some sectors have interests in maintaining the coal-dominated status quo.
In assessing the contribution of renewable energy sources to the electricity supply it’s important to distinguish between power (the rate at which it is produced at any particular moment) and energy (the total produced over an extended time period).
In view of the variability of the wind strength and the intermittence of sunlight, these technologies only occasionally produce power at top capacity. In typical South African conditions a 100 MW solar or wind plant only generates about a third of the energy of a functioning 100 MW coal plant.
Thus the recently announced construction of an additional 2,600 MW of wind and solar farms will effectively only produce electricity equivalent to about 900 MW averaged over a day – this equates to only about 15% of the worst power shortfalls experienced to date.
Overcoming the present 6,000 MW power shortages therefore requires approximately 15,000 MW of new solar and wind plants. The continuing deterioration in the efficiency of the large coal power plants means that the actual need for new renewable generating capacity in the next five years is closer to 20,000 MW. In the current electricity plan, this scale of renewable energy developments was projected over a time span of 10 years.
There is now an increasing recognition that the energy crisis must be treated as such. A speedy renewable energy boom is the only way to escape the downward spiral in power cuts in the medium term.
Minister Barbara Creecy announces improved environmental assessment processes for solar energy
Forest, Fisheries and the Environment Minister, Barbara Creecy, has announced initiatives for further streamlining the environmental assessment process for renewable energy projects in South Africa. The announcement was made during a virtual stakeholder engagement.
These measures will improve the efficiency of the environmental assessment processes to facilitate the development of Solar PV and associated infrastructure in areas of low to medium environmental sensitivity.
The initiatives to be implemented will exempt developers from obtaining environmental authorisation for certain listed or specified activities for the development of solar facilities. These initiatives are in addition to the interventions introduced since 2014 to streamline EAs related to renewable energy projects (i.e. gazetting of 11 Renewable Development Zones (REDZ), five 5 electricity transmission corridors and gas corridors as well as the implementation of a Generic Environmental Management Programmes for grid and substation development and expansion). In addition, gazetted Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) are processed in terms of the legislated 57 days as per the Infrastructure Development Act.
The Standard for the Development and Expansion of Powerlines and Substations in identified geographical areas will be Gazetted for implementation by the end of July 2022. Based on compliance with this Standard the development and expansion of powerlines and substations will be excluded from the need to obtain an EA prior to commencement when developed in areas of “low” and “medium” environmental sensitivity as identified by the national environmental screening tool, and within the five strategic electricity corridors. It should be noted that the exclusions will be subject to a registration process which will allow for compliance monitoring.
In August 2022, the Minister will gazette two notices calling for public comment that are aimed at simplifying the deployment of Solar PV facilities.
The registration process will reduce timeframes from 300 days and 147 days respectively to approximately 60 days from inception of the project.
The exclusion of Solar PV facilities from an EA based on compliance with an adopted environmental instrument will be subject to:
The appointment of an independent environmental assessment practitioner and of specialists (agricultural, terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity; cultural heritage and paleontology);
Confirmation of the environmental sensitivity rating through inspection by the various specialists and the preparation of a site sensitivity verification report by the environmental assessment practitioner which confirms the sensitivity rating and compliance with the allowable development limits; and
The preparation of an environmental management programme by the specialists and the environmental assessment practitioner
It will also include the signing of a declaration that the site sensitivity verification report is a true representation of the findings and the site is of medium or low environmental sensitivity for all themes; that there is an environmental management programme in place and that the developer will implement the mitigation measures identified in the environmental management programme.
Additional planned interventions to simplify the environmental authorisation process for renewable energy application will ensure that environmental sensitivities on a potential site are identified alongside the introduction of a rating of site sensitivities in line with the screening tool requirements. These areas will be mapped and located on the environmental screening tool and a generic environmental management programme (EMPr) will be developed for each site.
To access a recording of the stakeholder engagement session, click on:
Limitless zero-carbon clean energy is no longer a pipe dream
TAE Technologies exceeds fusion reactor performance goals by 250% as company closes $250-million financing round, totaling $1.2-billion to date
Following scientific milestones with current fusion reactor, Norman, TAE receives investments from long-term partner Google, as well as Chevron, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, and others to fund the construction of the company’s sixth-generation research reactor that will demonstrate the viability of net energy from TAE’s approach.
After achieving temperatures greater than 75-million degrees Celsius and demonstrating unmatched real-time control of plasma with its state-of-the-art fusion research reactor, Norman, TAE Technologies today announced that it has secured strategic and institutional investments to fund the construction of its next research reactor, Copernicus.
As the world leader in hydrogen-boron fusion research, TAE’s non-radioactive approach represents the fastest, most practical, and economically competitive solution to bring abundant carbon-free energy to the grid. TAE’s Copernicus reactor, which will be constructed in a 100 000-square-foot facility in Irvine, Calif., is designed to demonstrate the viability of achieving net energy generation with TAE’s advanced beam-driven field-reversed configuration (FRC) – the penultimate step on TAE’s path to commercialise clean fusion power.
TAE’s fifth-generation reactor, Norman, was unveiled in 2017 and was designed to keep plasma stable at 30 million degrees Celsius. After five years of experiments to optimise Norman’s capabilities, the machine has proven capable of sustaining stable plasma at more than 75-million degrees Celsius, 250% higher than its original goal.
With a track record of over delivering on milestones and performance capacity, TAE has attracted the support of visionary investors and to date has raised a total of $1.2-billion for its commercial fusion development. In its recently closed Series G-2 financing round, TAE secured $250-million from investors in the energy, technology, and engineering sectors to support the company’s mission to deliver a long-term solution to rapidly growing electricity demand while providing global energy independence and security. TAE’s safe, non-radioactive approach avoids carbon and particulate emissions, mitigating any impact on the environment or climate change.
Chevron, Google, Reimagined Ventures, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, and TIFF Investment Management are among the company’s most recent investors, along with a large US West coast based mutual fund manager and a big US pension fund. Goldman Sachs served as the exclusive financial advisor in connection with the Series G-2 financing round.
“The caliber and interest of our investors validates our significant technical progress and supports our goal to begin commercialization of fusion by the end of this decade,” said Michl Binderbauer, CEO of TAE Technologies. “Global electricity demand is growing exponentially, and we have a moral obligation to do our utmost to develop a baseload power solution that is safe, carbon-free, and economically viable.”
Sumitomo Corporation of Americas (SCOA) is TAE’s first investor from Japan, and will become a partner in deploying commercial power and other fusion-derived technologies to the Asia-Pacific market. SCOA, the largest subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation, the Tokyo-based Fortune 500 global trading and business investment company, has signed a commercial collaboration agreement to pursue TAE-based technologies in Japan and Asia.
“We look forward to being a partner in bringing TAE’s clean energy solutions to the APAC market, which will be paramount to sustaining local economies without impacting our planet,” said Sandro Hasegawa, General Manager, Energy Innovation Initiative Americas at SCOA. “We are pleased to support TAE’s groundbreaking fusion technology to create safe, sustainable energy sources across multiple industries and applications.”
Google continues to be an exceptional computational AI and machine learning partner for TAE. With a collaboration that began in 2014, Google’s investment follows the success of the jointly developed Optometrist Algorithm, which deploys Google’s machine learning to optimize the operation of TAE’s research reactors, substantially advancing the rate of progress and ultimate performance achieved. Programmatic steps that used to take well over a month can now be achieved within one day. In addition, the companies have developed breakthrough capabilities in holistically post-processing and integrating a large set of independent diagnostic measurements to produce high fidelity insights into experimental data at record-breaking scale.
Reimagined Ventures also joined this round as part of its mission to invest in visionaries who are solving some of society’s biggest challenges. “Limitless zero-carbon clean energy is no longer a pipe dream – it’s a future within reach thanks to TAE Technologies’ incredible scientific advancements,” said Jack Litowitz, Director of Strategic Investments at Reimagined Ventures. “Few challenges are as complex as replicating the sun’s energy generation process. The number of sectors and lives that TAE’s industry-leading work could positively impact is immeasurable. We’re proud to invest in Michl and his team as we believe they’re best positioned to forever alter the energy grid and democratize access to renewable fusion-based power for all.”
Chevron invested in TAE through its Technology Ventures unit, dedicated to energy innovation. “TAE – and fusion technology as a whole – has the potential to be a scalable source of no-carbon energy generation and a key enabler of grid stability as renewables become a greater portion of the energy mix,” said Jim Gable, Vice President, Innovation and President of Chevron Technology Ventures.
TIFF Investment Management Chief Investment Officer Jay Willoughby stated “Opportunities to back extraordinarily talented teams who can change the world do not come around often. The progress TAE has demonstrated and continues to make on the road to safe, clean, commercial fusion power is unique and something we all need.”
THE TAE DIFFERENCE
What sets TAE apart from other fusion efforts is the company’s proprietary advanced beam-driven field-reversed configuration (FRC), a combination of plasma physics and accelerator physics, developed to integrate into the grid with TAE’s preferred fuel source, hydrogen-boron, also known as proton-boron or p-B11.
TAE is committed to non-radioactive hydrogen-boron both for its abundance – in excess of 100,000 years supply globally – and because it is the cleanest, safest, most economical terrestrial fuel cycle for fusion, with no geopolitical concerns or proliferation risks. The company has worked toward delivering cost-competitive, environmentally benign hydrogen-boron fusion since its founding in 1998. Now, thanks to its proven money-by-milestone success and steady scientific progress, TAE is on the cusp of achieving that goal. (Seewww.tae.com/history).
“Through successful training of Norman’s state-of-the-art control system, paired with proprietary power management technology and extensive optimization of our machine learning algorithms, we have achieved a scale of control at an unparalleled level of integrated complexity,” said Binderbauer. “Our long-standing expertise in fusion, together with seminal advances in design and operational mastery, are paying off handsomely as we progress toward delivering an inexhaustible clean energy source that has the capacity to transform the human experience and sustain future generations.”
The impact of the G7’s multi-billion dollar plan on Africa’s infrastructure gap
Heightened focus on sustainability and social impact
By Michael Foundethakis, Baker McKenzie’s Global Head of Projects and Trade & Export Finance, and Africa Steering Committee Chair
In late June 2022, it was announced at the G7 Summit in Germany that a USD600-billion lending initiative, the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Initiative (PGII), would be launched to fund infrastructure projects in the developing world, with a particular focus on Africa. The G7 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – explained the PGII would help address the infrastructure gap in developing countries.
The US has recently renewed its focus on impact-building and financing strategic, long-term infrastructure projects in Africa, with the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) supporting infrastructure development on the continent. According to a 2020 report by McKinsey and Company – Solving Africa’s infrastructure paradox – the US accounts for 38% of global investors who have an appetite for African investment, by far the most of any country. In 2021, the US launched a refreshed “Prosper Africa initiative”, focusing on improving reciprocal trade and investments that create jobs and build infrastructure between the two regions. In 2022, the US announced it would mobilise USD200-billion over the next five years as part of the PGII, in the form of grants, financing and private sector investments. Some deals have already been announced, including, for example, a USD2-billion solar energy project in Angola, and the building of multiple hospitals in Côte d’Ivoire.
In early 2020, the European Commission published its Comprehensive Strategy with Africa, outlining the region’s plans for its new, stronger relationship with the continent. The strategy document laid out five top priorities for the EU in Africa: the green transition and improving access to energy; digital transformation; sustainable growth and jobs; peace and governance; and migration and mobility.
The UK is also making a strong play for influence, investment and trade with Africa, post-Brexit. Further to key summits in 2020 and 2021, finance is being redirected into Africa from the UK. In 2022, UK development finance institution (DFI), British International Investment (formerly CDC Group), announced it had exceeded its pledge to invest GBP2-billion in Africa over the last two years. The UK’s Global Infrastructure Programme helps partner countries (including in the African continent) to build capacity to develop major infrastructure projects, setting up infrastructure projects for success and paving the way for UK companies to support these projects.
Further, in November 2021, it was announced that the governments of South Africa, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, along with the European Union, were in negotiations to form a long-term Just Energy Transition Partnership. The partnership focuses on boosting the decarbonisation of the South African economy, with a commitment of USD8.5-billion for first round financing. It is expected that 1-1.5 gigatonnes of emissions will be prevented over the next 20 years, assisting South Africa to accelerate its just transition. Discussions are also currently taking place to establish a similar partnership in Senegal.
The African Development Bank noted in early 2022 that Africa’s infrastructure investment gap is estimated at more than USD100-billion per year. DFIs are increasingly anchoring the infrastructure ecosystem in Africa – serving a critical function for project finance as investment facilitator and a check on capital. DFIs can shoulder political risk and access government protections in a way that others cannot, enter markets others cannot and are uniquely capable of facilitating long-term lending. The large amount of capital needed to fill the infrastructure gap, however, means that DFIs cannot bridge it alone. Private equity, local and regional banks, debt finance and specialist infrastructure funds are primed to enter the market, and multi-finance and blended solutions are expected to grow in popularity as a way to de-risk deals.
The African Union’s 55 member states have stated that their primary funding needs include support in terms of safety and security on the continent, as well help in implementing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and the massive infrastructure investment it needs to be successful. The development of supporting infrastructure is key to boosting AfCFTA’s free trade potential, especially in terms of transportation, energy provision, internet access and data services, education and healthcare infrastructure projects.
Infrastructure projects in Africa now also have a heightened focus on improving Africa’s capacity for green, low-carbon and sustainable development, via, for example, clean energy, community healthcare and support, green transport, sustainable water, wildlife protection and low-carbon development projects. Funding such projects comes with responsibility – projects must not only be bankable and yield attractive returns, but must also be sustainable and provide tangible benefits to local economies and communities. All of Africa’s major partners have noted they will prioritise projects that commit to Environmental, Social and Governance principles, and access to capital for large infrastructure projects is likely to contain sustainability requirements.
That the focus of the PGII is on the sustainability and the social impact of these projects in Africa is further evidenced in the White House briefing room statement issued at the launch in June 2022, where it was stated that the PGII will ’’mobilise hundreds of billions of dollars and deliver quality, sustainable infrastructure that makes a difference in people’s lives around the world.’’