Energy deals signed between South Africa, China at BRICS summit

South Africa on Wednesday entered into a series of agreements with China aimed at revitalizing its aging energy sector, including upgrading its nuclear power plant.

During the BRICS summit in South Africa, several agreements were inked with Chinese power companies. These pacts encompass enhancements to the electricity transmission and distribution network of the southern African nation.

“We are moving at the speed of the fastest, we are not going to move at the speed of the slowest,” Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa after signing the deals.

South Africa aimed to learn from China’s expertise in rapidly establishing the world’s largest power transmission grid network, generation capacity, and renewable energy plants, according to Ramokgopa.

South Africa’s state-owned utility Eskom is facing a power supply deficit of approximately 4,000 megawatts (MW), which represents about a tenth of its total installed capacity. This shortfall has led to unprecedented power outages.

The transmission capacity is severely limited, obstructing the integration of alternative power sources. The majority of its distribution infrastructure, comprising numerous transformers and substations that deliver electricity to homes, frequently experiences burnouts, resulting in extended periods of power outage.

China intends to assist in prolonging the operational lifespan of Eskom’s coal-fired power plants. Additionally, they will provide technology for emissions reduction at a more economical rate than what’s accessible worldwide. Furthermore, there is a possibility of China establishing manufacturing facilities for transformers and solar PV panels within the country, Ramokgopa said.

It will also help South Africa upgrade its nuclear power plant, he added.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday that China, South Africa’s largest trading partner, will furnish emergency power equipment valued at 167 million rand ($8.9 million). Additionally, a grant of approximately 500 million rand will be provided for the power sector. However, specific timelines for these arrangements were not disclosed.

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