MASERU- Southern African Development Community (SADC) region has been operating under a power generation supply deficit for almost a decade with the situation not ending unless the region implements the planned generation projects.
This was revealed at the 42nd Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) executive meeting by Minister of Energy and Meteorology Khotso Letsatsi. The meeting was aimed to explore ways to achieve a robust, cost effective interconnected electricity network, electricity generation, energy efficiency and clean environment adaptation in the region.
The meeting also discussed the SAPP strategy, progress on generation projects and to evaluate progress on integrated power system planning to maintain adequate supply against demand requirements in the region.
“The region has a generation capacity deficit of around 6,000MW, however there are a number of generation projects that are under construction in various SADC countries that will help close this gap,” Letsatsi said.
He also noted that even though there seems to be a progress on implementing generation projects, transmission projects are still left behind and that transmission projects were still critical to evacuate the power from generation sources to various load centers within the region and also facilitate the wheeling of power among member-states.
“In 2016 alone 66 percent of the energy that was matched and could have been traded on the competitive market could not be traded due to transmission constraints,” he said
He also noted that despite the challenges on the regional supply and demand SAPP has made significant strides on the electricity trading side.
“Over USD70 million has been exchanged on the market among the SAPP members in 2016,” he said.
Letsatsi also noted that Lesotho is at an advance stage in ensuring that it improves the local generating power capacity by introducing a 20MW solar generating facility with the country currently at the stage of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) negotiations with the preferred bidder and the first Mwh from the project is expected in 2018.
Meanwhile, SAPP executive committee chairperson George Chibamba indicated that the challenges they face needs collaborative efforts of all member states.
“We are seeing a lot of independent power producers being licensed and the introduction of renewable energy in most countries. These efforts are complimenting the utility efforts and we need to work together with the new entrants so that the reliability of power system is maintained,” he said.
SAPP was created with the primary aim to provide reliable and economical electricity supply to the consumers of each of the SAPP members, consistent with the reasonable utilization of natural resources and the effect on the environment.