Mega power in the pipeline

By 2020 SADC hopes to generate enough electricity to be self-sufficient

27 August 2018 | Energy

Frank Steffen - The subcontinent's power supply was one of the matters discussed during the recent Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit held in Windhoek,

In 1995, SADC created the so-called Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), which aims to channel surplus power to members of the community in a coordinated fashion. Now the group aims to be self-sufficient on the mainland (excluding Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros) by 2022.

According to the latest survey, which was completed shortly before the summit, the power generation mix in the block has improved progressively. For example, dependence on coal-fired power plants has decreased from 74% of total production to about 62%, and hydropower supply has settled at around 21% of the total electricity generation.



Alternatives

Given this remarkable annual increase in electricity generation, it leads to the supposition that the difference stems from a huge increase in alternative and renewable energies.

At the moment about 62% of electricity is generated from coal-fired power plants, 21% by hydro-electric power plants, 4.4% by distillate-fuel plants, 4% by wind turbines, another 4% by photovoltaic and alternative solar systems, and 4% by biomass and other means.

South Africa, with its overcapacity of 3 731 MW (own consumption is around 38 897 MW), contributes the most power to the subcontinent. Only Angola (350 MW), Mozambique (232 MW) and Zambia (211 MW) produce more electricity than they need – the other countries import electricity.



Clients

The pool's main clients are the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has an average shortfall of 487 MW, Namibia (396 MW), Angola (350 MW) and Zimbabwe (302 MW).

However, electricity consumption in the region increased with an average of 6.8%, 2.6% and 2.9% in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively.

If SADC currently produces about 40% of the total electricity generated in Africa, this translates into an operating capacity of 60 719 MW, with a maximum average consumption of about 58 103 MW, which does not provide a huge reserve. For this reason more power plants are commissioned and put into operation each year, because as from 2022, the subcontinent wants to generate enough reserves to reduce its dependence on coal-fired power plants.

Between 2017 and 2022, nearly 30 646 MW of capacity will be generated through new projects. Glancing at SAPP's financial reports, you will notice that amounts are also given in Norwegian kroner. This is due to the fact that Norway contributed more than 17 million kroner (about U$2 million) to the fund and continues to support it financially.