South Africa lines up 2.6GW renewable energy procurement round

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The 86MW Waterloo solar park in South Africa's North West province. Image juwi.
The 86MW Waterloo solar park in South Africa’s North West province. Image: juwi.

South Africa’s government will issue a request for proposals in the coming weeks for 2.6GW of additional solar and wind capacity, it has been announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Speaking at the annual state of the nation address, Ramaphosa said this will be followed by another renewables bid window in August 2021 to help alleviate significant electricity supply shortfalls in the country as coal-fired plants retire.

Citing figures from state utility Eskom, Ramaphosa said that without additional capacity, there will be an electricity supply shortfall of between 4GW and 6GW over the next five years.

The proposals have been welcomed by the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA), which is looking for a quick turnaround for the upcoming procurement round and called on the country’s Energy Ministry to “rapidly rollout” the objectives put forward by the president.

“We commend President Ramaphosa for the strategic approach he has taken in his address. It is entirely appropriate that he identified energy generation capacity as one of the four priority interventions of the recovery plan for South Africa,” said Niveshen Govender, COO of SAPVIA.

“We must however shift the focus from hope to implementation with urgency. Urgent action is needed most on the topic of energy and electricity security if we are to achieve anything close to the kind of economic growth which the president alluded to in his speech.”

Ramaphosa also revealed that the government will soon start the procurement of an additional 11,800 megawatts of power from renewable energy, natural gas, battery storage and coal – a policy unveiled in September.

Meanwhile, the government will ease licensing requirements for distributed generation in the next three months, a move that could unlock up to 5GW of additional capacity and help to reduce the impact of load shedding.

SAPVIA said in a statement: “Increased deployment of distributed generation will release the pressure on Eskom’s already constrained supply and provide the much-needed additional capacity to the grid. No one could disagree with the need for increased capacity as our economy is hamstrung by the ongoing blight of load shedding.”

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