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Renewable Energy Grid Survey points to 66 GW development pipeline in South Africa

The project development pipeline in the Renewable Energy Grid Survey, with the advanced projects shown in red.

The project development pipeline in the Renewable Energy Grid Survey, with the advanced projects shown in red.

Photo by 2023 South African Renewable Energy Grid Survey

6th June 2023

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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A new survey of South Africa’s renewable-energy development pipeline, and its potential implications for grid planning and investment, reveals that some 66 GW of wind and solar projects are at various stages of development in South Africa and that a number of these projects are envisaged to be coupled with battery storage. The pipeline also includes some 2 GW of gas-to-power.

The ‘2023 South African Renewable Energy Grid Survey’, which has been compiled by Eskom in collaboration with the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) and the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) indicates that about 18 GW is at an advanced stage of development.

This means that environmental approvals have been granted, the site measurement campaign and feasibility work have been completed and a power purchase agreement has either been signed, is close to signature, or the project is ready to participate in the next public procurement bid window. Projects in this category would, thus, be able to enter into commercial operation within three years if granted a grid connection by Eskom or a municipality.

Another 21 GW is defined as being under development, while a further 27 GW is described as being at an early stage of development.

Eskom senior manager for strategic planning Ronald Marais reports that the survey has been undertaken in an effort to enhance grid planning, given the importance of the grid to ensuring that new generation is connected expeditiously so as to reduce, and eventually eliminate, loadshedding.

“The survey is a key input to the Transmission Development Plan assumptions for spatial allocation of renewable generation.

“This provides key locations for strengthening and providing access,” Marais tells Engineering News.

The results point to an emerging trend for potential investors to pair variable solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind projects with battery storage, with more than 19 GW of the solar PV and 7.5 GW of the wind projects surveyed coupled with batteries.

Some 21 GW of wind and 13 GW of solar is being progressed independently of storage, while about 300 MW of battery storage was being pursued independently of a renewables generator.

SAWEA CEO Niveshen Govender says the survey offers the renewables industry an opportunity to help influence grid planning.

He notes that, from a wind perspective, developments are initially located predominantly in the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape provinces, but that from 2027 onwards both KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga emerge as important wind jurisdictions.

Govender believes the survey has reinforced the need for co-location of technologies such as wind, solar and batteries to optimise the use of the grid, as well as for curtailment to support the future development of renewables.

“The curtailment regime needs to be well thought out and well managed within the contractual structures to ensure positive outcomes.

“Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of industry responses indicated a willingness for curtailment in grid-constrained areas with many suggesting up to 5% being acceptable – this is very much in line with international examples,” Govender says.

SAPVIA spokesperson Frank Spencer tells Engineering News that not all of the projects in the development pipeline can actually be built or connected, owing to both grid and skills constraints.

“But what it does show is tremendous interest from the private sector to develop power projects in South Africa and help solve loadshedding challenges,” Spencer adds.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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