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Chinese energy donations arrive as Stage 6 blackouts bite

  • The first part of an energy infrastructure donation from China is set to arrive on Thursday after a deal was struck between the two BRICS allies in August.
  • In total R167 million worth of generators, uninterrupted power supplies, and solar solutions will be donated to South Africa, with the first shipment expected on Thursday this week.
  • Amid the arrival of the donation are fears of a dark December as Eskom implements Stage 5 and Stage 6 blackouts.

In August, on the sidelines of the 2023 BRICS Summit, eight Chinese companies signed a deal with South Africa and announced they would donate energy infrastructure technology to help ease some of the loadshedding burden from the country’s public facilities.

At least 500 facilities were initially set to benefit from uninterrupted power supplies, generators, power supply vehicles, and off-grid solar energy storage systems as part of the deal, formulated by Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa and the eight companies, which include:

  • State Grid Corporation of China,
  • China-Africa Development Fund,
  • China Energy International Group,
  • China General Nuclear Power Corporation,
  • China National Electric Engineering Company, Ltd.,
  • Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.,
  • TBEA CO., LTD.,
  • and Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organisation.

On Thursday, South Africa is finally set to receive the first piece of this donation of equipment from the People’s Republic of China. In total, the country will receive R167 million worth of equipment and a grant of around R500 million from the Chinese as development assurance.

“The donation forms part of the Technical Assistance Programme that was entered into in August 2023 during China’s Head of State Visit to South Africa. The first consignment which has arrived in South Africa consists of 450 gasoline generators which will be distributed to public service facilities across the country,” explained the Presidency in a statement seen by SA News.

“The generators will be used as backup to alleviate the impacts of load shedding in the delivery of services in clinics, schools and courts whilst government continues to implement the Energy Action Plan to ultimately end load shedding and create sustainable energy security,” it added.

There is still no information on how much time it will take the government to implement and install the equipment after they have received it.

The arrival of the equipment is timely, as after a brief period of reduced outages, Stage 6 loadshedding is back on the cards this week after returning last week due to an urgent need to replenish emergency Eskom reserves.

At 2 AM on Wednesday, Eskom published its latest statement, increasing outages to Stage 5 during the day and Stage 6 in the evening, which will continue until Saturday morning.

It’s set to get worse as Eskom has forecasted worsening blackouts near the end of the year. At least between stages 1 and 3 every day from December to January, and this is the best-case scenario. Eskom also announced on Tuesday that Kusile unit 2 had been returned to service two days ahead of schedule, adding 800MW more to the energy grid, with Kusile now generating a total of 3 200MW.

Seemingly this is not enough against the heatwave-driven power demand. If high cuts persist, South Africans could finish 2023 how they started it. Sitting in the dark.

[Image – Photo by Alejandro Luengo on Unsplash]

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