South Africa to add more renewables to next procurement round

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Additional renewable energy capacity, including onshore wind and photovoltaic power generation projects, will be granted approval under the third round of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP), the country’s Department of Energy (DoE) has announced.

According to a DoE statement announcing a round of national infrastructure programmes, the department will consider allocating additional megawatts for renewable energy projects because bidding prices were competitive in the REIPPP.

Minister of energy Dikobe Ben Martins said that prices in the third round of the REIPPP reflected a downward trend from the first and second rounds, which has also allowed for the additional capacity.

The department did not state how much capacity could be added to the REIPPP but said the projects would contribute “towards the Department of Energy’s effort to ensure that renewable energy forms a significant part of the energy mix”. Projects must agree a power purchase agreement (PPA) with public utility Eskom and reach financial close by 30 July.

According to the announcement, the fourth round of the REIPPP is “on track” to close in August 2014. The fourth round will see a tender process open for bidding on 1,000MW of renewable energy projects.

In total the DoE announced details of seven infrastructure programmes including the REIPPP. While the additional renewable energy generation capacity tender was announced, conversely the department also announced the planned procurement of 800MW of cogeneration capacity for this month and 2,500MW of coal generation capacity in May. Also, the country is preparing a Gas Utilisation Masterplan to be made available in May 2014. This relates to the “potential of shale gas exploitation to make [South Africa] energy independent.” With respect to this, the DoE will assess the need for national gas infrastructure, including pipelines for interconnection to other countries and a brief mention of environmental responsibility.

The statement also referred to the creation at the end of March of a National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institution, developing what the department calls a “long term, holistic approach to the management of radioactive waste as South Africa prepares to implement the nuclear energy programme”. The country's sole nuclear power plant, Koeberg, celebrated the 30th anniversary since it came online, at the beginning of April.

Also included in the DoE statement was the announcement of a programme to stimulate the domestic manufacture of solar water heaters, which is apparently further along in its development. A list of compliant solar water heater manufacturers is expected to be published during this month.

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