South Africa's Eskom to reduce power cuts but long-term outlook bleak

The South African government is working on plans to generate 3GW (gigawatts) of gas-fired power as a solution to the ongoing load shedding in the country, the electricity minister said Sunday.

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa acknowledged the negative impact of power cuts on the South African economy, noting that the government was working on generating 3GW of gas-fired power.

"One of the things receiving priority is around the 3,000 MW of gas. As you know, gas, from an emissions standpoint, is a step down compared to coal, so it's important we accelerate that," he said, Reuters reported.

However, the minister admitted that to put load shedding to an end completely, the country required around 6GW capacity.

The government had originally planned to install a 3GW gas-fired power plant in Richards Bay. However, this plan was criticized by several environmental groups as they demanded renewable energy projects instead.

South Africa has been dealing with electricity issues for a decade now. Eskom, the energy company responsible for providing electricity across the country, uses coal stations to generate 80% of the electricity it supplies.

However, Eskom has not been able to meet the demand of 62 million South Africans, leading to power outages of up to 10 hours daily. Hence, the World Bank had stepped in to help South Africa meet its goal to transition from coal-fired power plants to green energy.

Ramokgopa's statement came after South Africa's $1 billion loan was approved by the World Bank last month to solve the country's energy crisis. Aside from the World Bank, South Africa also secured $676 million worth of funding from rich nations for its transition to green energy last month.

The South African Cabinet approved the implementation of the Green Hydrogen Commercialization Strategy on Oct. 19. Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, minister in the presidency, said this project would ensure South Africa becomes a major player in green hydrogen.

"Government has identified possible funding for green hydrogen projects and the draft Green Paper received extensive feedback from stakeholders," she said, according to SA News. "Green hydrogen has the potential to add additional renewable energy generation capacity and to support the local development of renewable energy."

The electricity minister had previously claimed Africa could produce 50 times more energy than required by 2040, adding that Sub-Saharan Africa's resources have the potential to generate between 5,000 to 13,000 million tons of green hydrogen energy every year.