The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) will publish a request for proposals (RFP) for its Integrated Renewable Energy and Resource Efficiency Programme (iREREP) in the first quarter of this year, it said in a statement on January 27.
The iREREP will be the largest programme for the procurement of renewable energy and resource efficiency for public facilities.
The RFP follows the successful outcome of a request for information (RFI) regarding the programme, which the DPWI issued on September 20, 2021.
“We are delighted with the level and quality of responses we received. It is evident that we will be able to find companies or consortiums with the requisite capability to deliver on the programme,” said Zara Nicholson, the media liaison officer for Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille.
Leading up to the RFP announcement, the DPWI, supported by the National Treasury’s Government Technical Advisory Centre, will host a series of information workshops to facilitate further engagement between the government and private sector.
“The workshops will focus on the themes and pertinent questions raised in the RFI allowing us to design a more responsive RFP,” Nicholson explained.
She added that the department would also host a bidder’s conference following the opening of the RFP and would announce details on this in the coming weeks.
“We encourage private sector participants across renewable energy, energy efficiency, water efficiency and alternative waste management, and through their various roles, including prospective bidders, prospective sponsors, lenders, local manufacturers, prospective suppliers, prospective advisors and other interested parties . . . to join us for the sessions,” Nicholson stated, emphasising that government wanted to see possible partnerships and collaborations between private parties to enable them to deliver an integrated solution.
The RFI – the results of which were released on January 27 – was aimed at evaluating the market for additional ideas and information for the iREREP that explored ways to deliver mutual value through strong partnerships across government and the private sector.
The iREREP was gazetted as a Strategic Integrated Project (SIP) in July 2020 as part of the Infrastructure Investment Plan, which was approved by Cabinet in May 2020. It is also known as the Photovoltaic and Water Savings on Government Buildings Programme – or SIP 28.
The idea behind the iREREP is to foster a greener path forward for the DPWI’s water and energy consumption, as well as waste generation.
The DPWI property portfolio is the largest property portfolio in South Africa and is, therefore, responsible for the consumption of a significant amount of electricity and water. It also generates a significant amount of waste.
Nicholson said recent studies placed the DPWI’s yearly electricity and water consumption at an estimated 4 021 GWh and 390-million kilolitres respectively, with more than 822 000 t of waste generated.
This equated to an average yearly expenditure of about R2.4-billion on electricity and about R1.8-billion on water.
The department hopes to reduce these costs through the implementation of iREREP over the next 30 years – a lead time that the DPWI said was aligned with government’s National Infrastructure Plan 2050.
After reviewing 58 RFI submissions, Nicholson said the overall impression was that there was an eagerness for collaboration among players from various sectors, all of whom indicated they would want to participate.
She said the majority of respondents believed the iREREP could achieve the set local content thresholds.
Moreover, 12% of the RFI respondents were local companies that provide locally manufactured components that can be used in the programme. These components include solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, lamps, fixtures, ballasts, lighting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning control systems, electric motors, heat pumps, sensors, batteries, charging infrastructure, transformers, compensation systems, smart metres, sprinkler control devices, boilers, and low-flow faucets with aerators.
“It is satisfying to see many of the respon[dents] believe that the programme can be used to create jobs, develop the skills base of South African citizens, previously disadvantaged persons, youth and people living with disabilities, and meet the socioeconomic development targets and related spend, contributing immensely to local communities,” Nicholson said.
Further, various respondents indicated that they would like to partner with the DPWI to provide a range of services. Some of these included accredited training initiatives in relevant technical fields; fast-tracking the accreditation of existing professionals; increasing the number of economic development points available to allow for job creation and skills development on the programme; increasing the involvement of previously disadvantaged persons in the manufacturing and assembling of components and equipment; driving strategic partnerships with existing skills development institutions of all kinds; partnering with the DPWI’s Expanded Public Works Programme; rolling out and using online learning platforms; promoting apprenticeships, learnerships and on-the-job training; partnering with other complementary programmes; as well as hiring and training semiskilled staff and previously disadvantaged youth.
“We have already started the process of unlocking private sector funding and narrowing the funding gap through catalysing dedicated funding mechanisms created to assist small businesses,” Nicholson revealed, adding that the iREREP has engaged various local, regional and international funding institutions.
She said there was already a “strong appetite” from various funding institutions that have expressed an interest in participating in the iREREP by providing funding for technical assistance, debt and equity.
“As we continue the road to economic recovery, there is an even greater need to partner in the investment and implementation of South Africa’s Infrastructure Investment Plan to facilitate social and economic development in an effective and purposeful way,” Nicholson concluded.