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DWS receives positive response to hydropower water licensing call

11th July 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has received positive responses following its decision to launch applications for water-use licences specifically for hydropower, says DWS director-general Dr Sean Phillips.

Speaking at the Spanish Chamber of Commerce’s Water Management and Sustainable Energy conference, held in Johannesburg on Tuesday, he said hundreds of applications had been received since the pre-applications for the water-use licences for hydropower generation were opened in April.

“We realised, as the department, that there had been changes in the legal environment and the regulatory environment for electricity generation in South Africa, in particular, the raising of the licensing threshold for embedded generation and then the doing away with that licensing threshold, that might result in increased interest from the independent power producers (IPPs) to generate electricity using the water resources in the country,” he told delegates.

The DWS initiated its hydropower IPP programme to allow for the available infrastructure and water courses to be used to contribute to the power grid with renewable energy in response to South Africa’s Energy Action Plan.

The plan aims to enable the production of renewable energy as an alternative source of energy to supplement the current available electricity and contribute to the mitigation of South Africa’s power crisis.

The types of hydropower technologies that can be applied for include impoundment; river diversion or run-of-river; pumped storage and floating or kinetic turbines (small-scale generating capacity), as well as floating solar panels.

In April, the DWS outlined three phases for the water use licence applications, the first of which is a pre-application phase which was open from April 17 until June 30.

“[This application phase] closed at the end of June, with a very good response. We received hundreds of applications. We are going to assess them now.”

The second phase will be the application compilation and submission which will end on January 31, 2024, while the third and final phase is application processing, decision and communication by the DWS.

Phillips commented that should there be capacity in South Africa’s water resources for further electricity generation, it was likely that the department would open a second window of applications.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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