Strategically managing South Africa’s transmission network has the potential to unlock significant renewable energy capacity, benefiting the country and its economy, according to Segomoco Scheepers, Eskom’s Managing Director of the transmission division. This strategy, known as curtailment, can boost the network’s capability to accommodate more renewable generators, with up to 4 GW of additional capacity.
Scheepers emphasized that this approach could release grid capacity in regions with high renewable potential, including the Eastern, Western, and Northern Cape, enabling additional generation capacity in areas that were previously fully committed.
“Scheepers pointed out that curtailment is a method utilized by utilities in regions with a significantly greater presence of renewable energy sources than our own,” Scheepers noted. He also mentioned that Eskom is in communication with customers who might be impacted by the curtailment plan, and the feedback has been positive so far.
For the Eastern, Western, and Northern Cape, a curtailment rate of less than 10% could potentially add an additional 4 GW of generation capacity, Scheepers explained. However, the plan requires discussions with the regulator and stakeholders and must undergo a workflow process for approval.
Scheepers stressed that the proposal needs the approval of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) and an outline from the Independent Power Producer Office. He pointed out that curtailment is essential to avoid destabilizing the system with excess generation when demand is low.
Eskom plans to be more systematic in dealing with connection obligations as it integrates more renewables into the system. Scheepers emphasized the need to assess the cumulative impact of all allocations before approval to prevent risks to the system.
Scheepers concluded by emphasizing the importance of the transmission grid in enabling decarbonization and improving energy security, noting, “We are living in exciting times.”