Hydrogen fuel is considered 'green' when produced using electricity derived from renewables such as solar and wind

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said that the government is working on expediting the expansion of transmission lines to the Cape provinces, a move that is expected to unlock at least 2,335 megawatts (MW) of energy in the short-term.

Speaking during a meeting on Tuesday with business stakeholders in KwaZulu-Natal, the minister explained that several renewable energy projects are already producing electricity. However, he pointed out that there is a lack of transmission lines.

"In the short-term, we can unlock about 2,300 MW of stranded electrons. That is the route that we are taking and as the Minister, I'll be making the necessary announcement. We already know the corridors where we are going to get this 2,335 MW," he said, SA News reported.

"It's in Upington, the Juno Gromis 400kV line and all that in the Nama transformer in Upington (sic). Once we make those interventions, we get an additional 2,300 MW. We don't have to wait for 10 years," he added.

Ramokgopa noted that the interventions happening now but eventually the government will require financing solutions to address the transmission issues.

Over the long-term, the country needs 14,000 kilometers of new transmission lines to connect the renewable energy projects and further strengthen the grid.

Meanwhile, the demand for rooftop solar among the public and business owners has increased following the government's announcement of tax incentives and financial support for the same.

The minister said that the installed rooftop solar capacity has climbed from 983 MW in 2022 to 4,412 MW by mid-2023.

"Our anticipation is that the rate of growth will exceed what we would have seen in the previous calendar year," he said.

Ramokgopa noted that the nation needs availability of equipment and installation skills for an aggressive rollout of rooftop solar.

"South Africa, compared to many countries in the world, has had the biggest import of solar panels," he added.

The minister said he had talks with some of the biggest solar panel makers across the globe and hopes to attract companies, invariably from China, to localize production in the country.

When it comes to the installation of these solar panels, the minister said that the government is recruiting about 25,000 people to do the job.

"In every crisis, there is an opportunity and that opportunity must be taken. We are looking to industrialize and... we are looking to create these new skills so that we get people into jobs," he said.