The third bidding window for South Africa’s national renewable energy initiative closes today amid expectations of a surge in competition for the available PV capacity.

The third stage of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) is expected to award contracts for 401.7MW of new PV capacity, on top of the 1,048MW awarded under rounds one and two.

Interest in the programme leapt between rounds one and two, with the second round attracting investment interest from such big names as internet giant Google and many of the big hitters in the global PV industry opening operations or launching joint ventures in South Africa.

Now with round three closing, competition is expected to be even greater – one well placed source indicated to PV Tech that up to 3GW of bids could be submitted for the 401.7MW of PV capacity on offer.

The preferred bidders will be announced on 29 October, with financial close and power purchase agreements to be completed no later than 30 July 2014.

Nine PV projects were approved in the second round out of 19 bids, there were 18 winning bids in the first round, with all power generated to be purchased by national electricity provider, Eskom.

Additional reporting by Ben Willis