Eskom set to build 14,000 km of transmission lines in 10 years

Harris Marley
Harris Marley

Global Courant
Picture: BusinessLIVE

Eskom has plans in place to build 14,000 km of transmission lines over the next decade, an infrastructure project the likes of which South Africa has never done.

Eskom’s transmission development plan outlines how the utility will expand the country’s grid to accommodate more renewable energy from private producers.

Isabel Fick who is general manager for system operations at Eskom, spoke at an event hosted by UCT’s Energy Systems Research Group and the Presidential Climate Commission this week. Fick said: “The country has never done an infrastructure upgrade as we are about to see with the transmission development plan,”

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Isabel also mentioned that the country needs a lot more renewable energy despite the challenges it brings in terms of the variability of electricity generated.

Sources of renewable energy are variable since they can only generate electricity when the weather conditions are right. Solar needs the sun to shine, and wind turbines need the wind to blow, making Fick’s job of managing Eskom’s network much more difficult with sudden weather changes.

In Gauteng alone for instance, the combined effects of load-shedding and the variable output of rooftop solar can cause a sudden increase in electricity demand of 2,000 MW.

On its own, wind power experiences challenges because as much as it coincides almost perfectly with the evening peak demand in summer, wind generation increases significantly in winter in the Western and Eastern Cape.

Eskom is estimating that it will need R100 billion for grid expansion in the next financial year.

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Professor Hartmut Winkler revealed that Eskom’s balance sheet is simply not strong enough to fund the expansion of the grid, forcing it to request more money from the government or leave it to the private sector.

Eskom mentioned that it will be needing an additional R100 billion in the 2025 financial year. This amount will increase annually to R170 billion in 2029.

Eskom set to build 14,000 km of transmission lines in 10 years

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