South Africa launches call for proposals for 1 GW solar PV

The 75 MW Kalkbult PV system in the South African province of North Cape was completed in 2013. Image: Scatec.

The South African government has launched its latest renewable energy procurement round under its IPP Renewable Energy Procurement Program (REIPPPP), which aims to procure 1 GW of solar PV.

The call for tenders, which started today (March 19, 2021), represents offer window 5 of the state’s REIPPPP, with which offers can be submitted until August 4, 2021. It intends to procure 1.6 GW of wind in addition to the solar allocation.

Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe announced the launch and said the goal is to get successful projects online “as soon as possible” given the persistent energy problems South Africa is facing. State utility company Eskom has carried out power outages due to persistent outages in coal-fired power plants.

The tendering round is the first phase of a procurement of 11,813 MW of new generation capacity announced last September, which will come from various sources by 2027. As part of this effort, the government will submit four more requests over the next 12 months for proposals that include 2.6 GW of renewable energy, 513 MW of battery storage, 3 GW of gas capacity and 1.5 GW of coal.

Realizing that South Africa is “getting used to intermittent power supplies,” Mantashe said his department’s work is focused on making sure the procurement program moves forward to ensure power supplies from a range of sources. In addition, the license threshold for increased distributed generation is checked.

In his January union state speech, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said that without capacity expansion, the country could face an electricity shortage of between 4GW and 6GW over the next five years. He called for electricity to be procured that could be put online in the shortest possible time and suggested measures so that municipalities can generate or buy their own electricity.

In a separate development this week, bidders for an emergency power procurement round were shortlisted. The IPP 2 GW Risk Mitigation Procurement Program (RMIPPPP) was launched in August 2020 to ease power restrictions and reduce the use of diesel-based peaking systems.

The process led to the selection of eight preferred offers, which deliver a total of 1,845 MW from technologies such as solar PV, wind, liquefied natural gas and battery storage. The electricity from the new systems is expected to be connected to the power grid from August 2022.

The preferred bidders include the Saudi Arabian ACWA Power and the South African developer for renewable energies Mulilo. Preferred bidding status was also given to the 128 MW Oya Energy Hybrid Facility, which is being developed by G7 Renewable Energies in Cape Town and which colocalizes solar PV, wind and lithium-ion batteries.

Construction of the Oya plant is scheduled to begin near the city of Matjiesfontein in the Western and Northern Cape provinces by the end of the year. “Oya can deliver electricity on demand at a lower cost than flexible gas projects and with virtually no harmful CO2 or other emissions, bringing us closer to our 2050 vision of 100% renewable energy in South Africa,” said Killian, co-founder of G7 Hagemann.

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