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Curtailment framework submitted to Nersa as new deadline is set for restart of IPP procurement

1st December 2023

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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Eskom has confirmed that it has delivered a curtailment framework, as well as its proposed Gated Generator Connection Process (GGCP) to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) for approval. However, it is not yet clear whether either will be approved ahead of the restart of public procurement for new independent power producer (IPP) capacity.

Minerals Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe reported this week that Bid Window Seven (BW7) of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme would be launched “within two weeks”, along with an inaugural gas-to-power bidding round and a second battery storage bid window.

The renewables bidding round was initially expected to be launched by mid-year following the partial failure of the previous round, when no wind project advanced to preferred-bidder status after Eskom indicated that all grid connection capacity in the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape provinces had been absorbed.

The subsequent renewables round, together with the gas-to-power and second battery bid window, had since been delayed largely because of ongoing uncertainty over what grid capacity was still available and whether Eskom would implement curtailment to unlock capacity in the grid-constrained provinces.

In October, Eskom published its latest Generation Connection Capacity Assessment (GCCA), indicating there to be 19.9 GW of grid-connection capacity available nationally, but with zero capacity remaining in the three Cape provinces and the Hydra Central area, which borders the Cape provinces and the Free State.

In November, however, Eskom indicated that curtailment studies had been undertaken to provide “developers with an alternate option if they are still keen to connect in these constrained areas”. It also indicated that a curtailment addendum to the GCCA would be published that could unlock 4 GW of connection capacity in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces.

Speaking from the same platform where Mantashe announced the new IPP bidding timeframe, Eskom Transmission MD Segomoco Scheppers confirmed that the curtailment framework and GGCP were currently before Nersa but did not comment on when the regulator was expected to decide on the documents.

IPP Office head Bernard Magoro indicated that there had been ongoing engagements with Eskom following BW6 to find solutions to the grid-access issues that rose to prominence during the round, as well as to ensure an “orderly approach” to grid allocation, in light of regulatory changes that had made it possible for private-offtaker projects of any size to proceed in the absence of a licence, including when these were grid-connected.

Eskom’s GGCP proposes a shift from a one-on-one assessment of the connection requests to a clustered process, whereby aggregated grid adequacy and stability assessments will be made in batches.

The GGCP also envisages “rolling cycles of procurement” that alternate between the public and private offtaker programmes, with grid cost estimate letters to be specific to each programme.

It was not immediately certain whether Nersa intended hosting hearings on either the curtailment framework or the GGCP.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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