Virtual Wheeling: A New Blueprint for Energy Generation in South Africa

In a bid to shift perceptions of power generation in South Africa, Vodacom South Africa, Eskom, and the National Business Initiative (NBI) hosted a knowledge sharing session on virtual wheeling, a new approach to energy procurement that has the potential to revolutionize the way electricity is generated and consumed in the country.

The session was attended by stakeholders from government, business, and the energy industry, and provided a platform for experts to discuss the key benefits of virtual wheeling, as well as the challenges and opportunities associated with its implementation.

Sitho Mdlalose, CEO of Vodacom South Africa, highlighted the potential of virtual wheeling to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and support the country’s decarbonization goals. He also noted that Vodacom is committed to sharing its insights and learnings from the virtual wheeling agreement it signed with Eskom in August 2023, in the hope that it will inspire other businesses to follow suit.

Monde Bala, Distribution Group Executive at Eskom, explained that virtual wheeling addresses the limitations of traditional wheeling by incorporating smart metering, removing the need to amend customer supply agreements, and extending wheeling to customers connected at low voltage. He also emphasized the role of virtual wheeling in increasing security of supply and reducing load shedding.

Shameela Soobramoney, CEO of the NBI, described virtual wheeling as a “pivotal component of the Just Energy Transition” and an “indispensable lever in South Africa’s burgeoning renewable energy market.” She stressed the importance of collaboration between business, government, and other stakeholders in making virtual wheeling a success.

The session concluded with a panel discussion on the challenges and critical enablers of energy generation in South Africa. Panelists discussed the government, supply, and demand perspective of energy generation, and highlighted the need for a clear and supportive policy framework to facilitate the wider adoption of virtual wheeling.

Overall, the knowledge sharing session was a success in raising awareness of virtual wheeling and its potential benefits for South Africa. The session also provided a valuable opportunity for stakeholders to engage in dialogue and explore ways to accelerate the deployment of this innovative solution.

Virtual wheeling is a new approach to energy procurement that allows industrial and commercial customers to buy electricity directly from independent power producers (IPPs), using the national grid to transmit the energy. Virtual wheeling offers a number of benefits, including: Increased security of supply and reduced load shedding, Unlocked investments in new generation capacity by IPPs and Accelerated transition to renewable energy and decarbonization

Vodacom, Eskom, and the NBI are committed to promoting the adoption of virtual wheeling in South Africa and believe that it has the potential to play a major role in transforming the country’s energy sector.

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