China donates R167m in equipment to bolster SA's power supply
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China donates R167m in equipment to bolster SA's power supply

Feb 03, 2024

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By: Thando Maeko

SA is set to receive over 500 units of technical equipment worth R167m from China to provide uninterrupted power supply to public institutions as part of a trade deal between SA and eight Chinese energy companies, including the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC).

The donation from the Chinese companies — including gas and diesel generators, solar PV units and offgrid storage supply — come with no conditions, says electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.

He added that 400 units of the technical equipment are already on their way to SA and will be located at public hospitals, clinics and police stations.

"There is no cost; it's a donation ... I don't have the dates when [the units] will arrive," Ramokgopa said on Wednesday.

"We are going to get 552 of those units and 450 are already on the way. It means more than 500 public facilities are going to have access to [an] uninterrupted alternative power supply. Thank you to the Chinese for the generous contribution. The equipment ranges from 6kW up to 200kW, which can support a clinic and a mediumsized hospital, so this is relief for [the] South African people," he said.

Ramokgopa made the remarks during the signing of a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) with the eight Chinese entities at the Brics summit. The signing ceremony was held on the sidelines of the summit, now under way in Johannesburg.

The eight companies include: the SGCC, ChinaAfrica Development Fund (CAD Fund), China International Energy Group (CIEG), China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), China National Electric Engineering Company (CNEEC), Huawei Technologies, TBEA and the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO).

"Even before today, almost all of them have been helping us on the generation side and have already generated a number of reports on how best we can improve the issues of performance of the coalfired powered stations, reduce the emissions levels, reduce the technical losses on the grid and, on the transmission side, what is required in relation to planning and accommodating new renewables on the grid," Ramokgopa said.

The donation from China is in addition to the R500m grant presented to SA as development assistance to alleviate the energy crisis, which was announced by president Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday when he hosted his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on a state visit ahead of the Brics summit.

It comes as SA and China seek to strengthen ties and reduce a huge trade imbalance between them; both countries signed several agreements on infrastructure, energy, agriculture and education.

Ramokgopa described the Chinese as a "perfect partner" to SA as it pushes ahead to alleviate its longstanding energy crisis, because, "[T]hey have experienced a similar problem that we are experiencing now."

"Second," said the minister, "they've got the biggest coal generation capacity of any country in the world. They've got the biggest installed renewable energy capacity of any country in the world ... about 688GW.

"The amount of renewables they have is twelve times the size of Eskom.

"They are sitting on extensive amounts of liquidity. We can tap into that financing, which is concessional and cheaper than any other."

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