Surplus electricity for SADC region a reality since beginning 2017
By Joseph Ngwawi for Southern African News Features, produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre ([email protected]).
According to statistics from the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), mainland Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states had installed capacity of 59,539 Megawatt (MW) and operating capacity of 54,397 MW as of the end of April 2017 against peak demand of around 53,478 MW.
The result is excess generation capacity of 919 MW since the beginning of this year showing that efforts to achieve energy security in southern Africa appear to be achieving results as the region continues enjoying surplus electricity.
The excess is partly as a result of a slowdown in the South African economy but also due to the impact of a coordinated approach in implementation of the SADC energy programme.
The surplus comes five years ahead of the initial SAPP target to attain electricity self-sufficiency by 2022.
The SAPP figures, which were released during a meeting of ministers responsible for energy in the SADC region, showed that more new generation capacity was added to the power pool in 2016 than was previously anticipated.
The region exceeded the target of 3,757 MW for the year and commissioned 4,180 MW from new power projects and the rehabilitation of old power plants.
Mainland member states are planning to commission more than 7,000 MW of new generation capacity in 2017, a development that is expected to further strengthen the region’s energy security.
However, the increased generation capacity in Angola, Malawi and Tanzania is only available domestically as the three countries are yet to be connected to the rest of the SAPP grid.
There are plans for the rest of mainland SADC to tap into the installed capacity of these three SAPP members through the implementation of several interconnector projects.
Other interconnector projects are expected between Mozambique and Malawi as well as between Namibian and Angola. The target dates for commissioning these are 2020.
Unlike in the past where coal-fired plants contributed the largest share of new generation capacity, 2016 saw only one new coal project in Zambia coming on board with a capacity of 300 MW.
The move towards renewable energy follows a resolution made in 2012 by southern African countries to increase the uptake of cleaner and alternative energy sources.
The long-term target set by SADC is to achieve a renewable energy mix in the regional grid of at least 32% by 2020 and 35% by 2030.
SADC has since 2014 set its sight on transforming the region’s economies from trade in unprocessed natural resources to substantial value addition of raw materials.
Graph sourced from the International Renewable Energy Agency’s report on the Southern African Power Pool.