Transmission infrastructure urgently needed for Mpumalanga

SOUTH Africa’s Mpumalanga province could run out of available grid capacity within the next five to six years if no new transmission infrastructure is built in the province, said BusinessLive citing an interview with Seriti Green CEO, Peter Venn.

Seriti Green, which is majority-owned by coal miner Seriti Resources, is building Mpumalanga’s first wind farm. The first 155MW phase of its 900MW project will start producing power next year, and it will be sold to Seriti Resources, said BusinessLive. Venn said he wanted to have all 900MW operating by the end of 2026.

Citing Venn, BusinessLive said solar and wind power developers have so far favoured the Cape provinces because of their high potential for renewable energy generation, but the interest in developing wind projects in Mpumalanga is on the increase.

Seriti Green’s project in Mpumalanga was initially greeted with scepticism, but Venn said new technology makes it increasingly viable to operate wind farms in the province at the same capacity as those in the higher wind potential areas such as the Eastern Cape, and other projects are likely in the next three to fours years.

Still, that was likely to happen at a scale that would deplete the 3GW or so of grid connection capacity available in the province within five to six years, said BusinessLive.

One of the biggest challenges facing new, large-scale renewable energy projects in South Africa is the lack of available capacity to connect to the grid. In its latest generation connection capacity assessment, Eskom said total grid capacity is about 20,000MW. More than half of that is in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, while Mpumalanga has 3,300MW of available capacity, said BusinessLive.