- South Africa plans to procure 14.771 GW new wind, solar and battery storage capacity under a new ministerial determination
- It has lowered the requirement of local content for solar panels from 100% earlier to now 30% in a bid to alleviate constraints
- Government is also making efforts to streamline and speed up regulatory environment to ensure projects can enter construction at the earliest
As South Africa stares at another 2 years of load shedding as forecast by Eskom, President Cyril Ramaphosa led government is taking measures to accelerate renewable energy installations with plans to procure 14.771 GW of new wind, solar and battery storage capacity and bending local content rules for solar panels.
To elaborate, the government has published a new ministerial determination for this 14.771 GW renewable energy capacity to accelerate further bid windows. To alleviate constraints, local content requirement for solar panels has been reduced from 100% to 30%.
Coming in the wake of load shedding that in recent times have gone up to 12 hours a day, these suggestions from the National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM) are part of its 6-month progress update on the implementation of the Energy Action Plan.
‘Endorsed’ by energy experts as providing ‘the best and fastest path towards energy security’, through the action plan the government has instructed departments to streamline regulatory processes for energy projects. This includes reducing environmental authorization timeline by half from over 100 days earlier to now 57 days. Grid connection approvals will also be provided within 6 months and the time for registration process has been lowered to 3 weeks, from 4 months till now.
A total of 2.8 GW new renewable energy capacity, thanks to project agreements for 19 projects under Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP)—bid window 5 (1.8 GW solar and wind) and 6 from bid window 6 (1 GW)— are expected to soon enter construction. The 6th bid window selected 5 solar projects representing 860 MW combined capacity, with negotiations with a 6th bidder to fill up gap of 1 GW (see South Africa: Disappointing 6th RE Round For Onshore Wind).
As per NECOM, the pipeline of private-sector embedded generation projects has grown to over 100 projects representing a total capacity exceeding 9 GW. As new capacity comes online, the government expects to reduce the frequency and severity of load shedding.
“South Africans are right to demand immediate action to address the devastating impact of load shedding on our lives and on the economy,” said Ramaphosa. “The Energy Action Plan provides a clear way out of this crisis. We do not need any new plans – we are focusing on implementing this plan fully and effectively to achieve energy security for all South Africans.”
To meet demand in the short term, the government plans to buy around 1 GW power generation capacity from its neighbors after having already imported 300 MW through the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).
Eskom plans to construct its maiden solar and battery storage projects at Komati, Majuba, Lethabo and other power stations as solar, wind, gas and storage projects at Komati, Sere and Lethabo come online in 2023 (see Renewables To Replace South African Coal Power Plant).
The utility targets to sign initial contracts for up to 1 GW capacity with companies having available generation capacity under the utility’s Standard Offer Programme.
To encourage rooftop solar adoption, Eskom is seeking administration’s approval for a net metering tariff for residential customers and is also working on a net billion framework for municipalities to feed into the grid power generated from such systems.
Complete update is available on the Presidency website.