WINDHOEK - Member States of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) actually produce more electricity than they require at peak demand but because not all member states are connected to the regional electricity grid, this excess energy cannot be shared with member states that do not generate sufficient amounts of energy for their respective populations. When considering SADC’s current peak demand and generation capacity reserve margins, the region is estimated to generate excess capacity of 2 616 MW. In fact, the installed capacity in the region is more than 40 percent of the total installed generation capacity in Africa.
According to the Director for Infrastructure at the SADC Secretariat, Mapolao Rosemary Mokoena, electricity demand in SADC increased by a weighted average of 6.8 percent, 2.6 percent and 2.9 percent during 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. In addition, the installed generation capacity in the region is 68 324 MW, which includes installed capacity from Oceanic Member States that stand at 782 MW, 246 MW and 106 MW for Mauritius, Madagascar and Seychelles respectively.
SADC’s installed capacity is however still dominated by coal-fired plants, mainly from South Africa. However, from 2013 to 2017, the share of coal dropped from 74 percent to 60 percent, while hydropower remained constant at 21 percent.
According to Mokoena, recent investments in the renewable energy technologies and commissioned gas-fired power plants increased their share as primary energy sources in the generation mix and as of the end of 2017, the 12 mainland Member States had an installed generation capacity of 67 190 MW and operating capacity of 60 719 MW against a peak demand and reserve of 58 103 MW.
In 2017, the commissioned 3 008 MW of generation capacity by public utilities and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in mainland Member States comprised of Angola 1 155 MW; Botswana 120 MW, DRC 150 MW, Malawi 6 MW; Mozambique 40 MW; Namibia 70 MW; South Africa 1 234 MW; Tanzania 28 MW; Zambia 55 MW and Zimbabwe 150 MW.
During a media briefing on Sunday, Mokoena explained that the generation mix for the new power plants commissioned in 2017 came from hydropower (38.5 percent), coal (23.5 percent), gas (22.3 percent), solar (8.9 percent), wind (6.7 percent) and diesel (0.2 percent).
This year, mainland Member States planned to commission 4 667 MW from Angola 1,269 MW, Malawi 112 MW, Mozambique 140 MW, Namibia 20 MW, South Africa 2,662 MW, Tanzania 212 MW, Zambia 102 MW and Zimbabwe 150 MW. In addition, Mokoena noted that short-term measures including rehabilitation of old plants and building of new power generation projects will add more than 26 108 MW to address the overall generation deficit in order to achieve power supply adequacy by 2022.