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Load shedding puts South Africa’s food security at risk

Load shedding puts South Africa’s food security at risk

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Electricity supply in South Africa will remain constrained through to the weekend after Eskom announced that Stage 5 load shedding will continue being implemented until Saturday morning.

This comes as Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele will on Friday, brief the media on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting held to deal with the ongoing power crisis.

The struggling power utility ramped up its rotational load shedding to Stage 6 on Sunday before tampering to Stage 5 during the week as its ageing coal-fired power plants experienced severe unplanned breakdowns.

Eskom has since launched three programmes to procure 1 000MW of much needed power for the national grid from companies who have existing generation capacity for a period of three years.

Agri SA has warned that Eskom must work with farmers to limit calamitous impact of load shedding on food security, and the organisation has written to Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter requesting an urgent engagement on the outlook for load shedding in the coming weeks.

Agri SA executive director Christo van der Rheede said the current energy crisis may have implications for food security into the coming year unless farmers can put measures in place to mitigate against the effects of load shedding.

“A reliable power supply is especially critical for the sector’s irrigation and water treatment.

The consequences of load shedding for the different agricultural commodities are far-reaching, with potentially devastating outcomes,” van der Rheede said.

“Moreover, the impact of load shedding extends beyond the blackout. It usually takes up to an hour to resume irrigation systems when load shedding ends, costing farmers time and incurring additional labour costs.

“Blackouts also disrupt cooling and packing with ramifications for food quality, and they pose a health hazard for humans and animals alike as they disrupt access to clean water for consumption and stop wastewater treatment.

“Agri SA is aware of the recent announcement that Eskom will approach the market to procure 1 000MW, but farmers need to know what the plan is beyond this initial attempt to stabilise the grid in order to plan for the season ahead.”

Meanwhile, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe yesterday announced the first three projects to sign project agreements under the 5th Bid Window of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP Bid Window 5).

The three renewables projects are all procured from onshore wind technologies and will contribute a total of 420MW of renewable capacity to the national grid.

However, this is not emergency power generation as the construction timeline for these projects is expected to be 24 months and the new generation capacity should be online by the end of 2024.

The total investment amount for these projects is approximately R 11 billion, of which R 7.8 billion is debt finance.


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