South African renewables call for end to construction shutdown

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Image credit: South African Tourism / Flickr

South African solar representatives have come on board a campaign to ensure the installation of renewable plants can resume in May, coinciding with a relaxation of national lockdown measures.

This week, a letter co-signed by national bodies for PV (SAPVIA), wind (SAWEA), energy storage (SAESA), thermal solar (STASA) and broader renewables (SAREC) called on the government to include green energy construction in the list of sectors allowed back to work starting next month.

The government of president Cyril Ramaphosa – who is consulting the country over which activities should resume when South Africa’s lockdown eases from level 5 to 4 on 1 May – should consider renewables’ contribution to electricity supply and economic recovery, the associations said.

In their missive, the organisations argued the green energy sector is already “accustomed to operating in a controlled environment” and has enacted “strict health [and] safety protocols”. Any additional requirements can be “easily accommodated” if construction resumes, the letter said.

To bolster their case, SAPVIA and the other associations pointed at the 2.23GW large-scale enewable pipeline they said currently lies under construction. According to their records (see table below), solar accounts for an 800MW-plus share of that total.

There is also, the letter said, the separate 800MW pipeline of embedded generation projects to consider. These privately-owned facilities “provide mitigation to the high risk of load shedding as the economy reopens,” the associations claimed.

South Africa’s plans for a phased reopening of its economy in May follow the roll-out of strict lockdown measures on 27 March. The quarantine has paralysed the work of solar EPCs – Spain’s Gransolar included – and brought delays to the processing of IPP project applications.

In South Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic comes after bumpy years for its REIPPP renewables procurement programme, launched in 2011. In early 2019, the government said it was mulling the renegotiation of existing PPAs to ease the financial burdens of offtaker and state-run utility Eskom.

Renewable players – who have faced off a REIPPPP legal challenge from coal truckers – hailed last October the government’s allocation of a new 6GW of solar, coupled the following month by plans for three new ”fast-tracking” renewable energy zones.

The 800MW-plus of under-construction solar in South Africa

Solar project name Capacity (MW) Province Town
Bokamoso 67.9 North West Matlosana
Aggeneys Solar Project 40 Northern Cape Aggeneys
Zeerust 75 North West Ramotshere Moiloa
Waterloo Solar Park 75 North West Vryburg
Solar Capital Orange 75 Northern Cape Loeriesfontein
Sirius Solar PV Project One 75 Northern Cape Upington
Konkoonsies II Solar Facility 75 Northern Cape Pofadder
Greefspan PV Power Plant No. 2 Solar Park 55 Northern Cape Douglas
Dyason’s Klip 1 75 Northern Cape Upington
Dyason’s Klip 2 75 Northern Cape Upington
Droogfontein 2 Solar 75 Northern Cape Kimberley
De Wildt 50 North West Brits
Source: SAPVIA, SAWEA, SAESA, STASA, SAREC

PV Tech has set up a dedicated tracker to map out how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting solar supply chains worldwide. You can read the latest updates here.

If you have a COVID-19 statement to share or a story on how the pandemic is disrupting a solar business anywhere in the world, do get in touch at jrojo@solarmedia.co.uk or lstoker@solarmedia.co.uk.

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