Industry body the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) COO Niveshen Govender says the organisation supports the implementation of technology-specific, nuanced procurement programmes based on long-term capacity requirements to facilitate cheaper power.
Energy security is a fundamental building block, necessary to achieve higher economic growth and employment levels, and the association welcomed Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's recognition in the Budget speech of the role that the private sector will play in restarting the engines of sustainable growth, he adds.
"In his Budget speech, we heard that three energy projects have been gazetted that will be supported through private-sector investment of about R52.4-billion. These projects will create an estimated 2 569 MW of electricity generating capacity, which will alleviate electricity supply constraints, reduce the use of diesel-based peaking electrical generators and support broad-based black economic empowerment initiatives, including ownership and localisation," says Govender.
"We stand ready to support the transformation of our energy infrastructure and the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry eagerly anticipates execution of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme Bid Windows 5 and 6, as stated in the State of the Nation Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa."
SAPVIA anticipates that the national energy system, encompassing both the private and public sectors, will also include sophisticated energy solutions, such as battery energy storage systems, adds Govender.
Mboweni mentioned that the Small Independent Power Producer (IPP) Programme, and 16 solar PV projects with a combined capacity of 80 MW had been proposed to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy under the Small IPP Programme Bid Windows 1 and 2.
“Procurement for the Small IPP Programme has not yet been concluded and we urge the government to move with haste to ensure that we do not delay realising the opportunities of these projects," says Govender.
“If we are to create a sustainable, resilient and inclusive economy, the embedded generation investment programme must be structured to create opportunities for black-, women- and youth-owned small and medium-sized enterprises in renewable energy. The programme is expected to be operational towards the end of 2022."
SAPVIA has implemented programmes to address the skills gap and make the renewable energy sector more inclusive. The Developing Developers series of webinars, produced in collaboration with the South African Wind Energy Association, has engaged with more than 1 000 participants who now have the basic understanding to develop renewable energy projects for government procurement, says Govender.
In addition, SAPVIA's PV GreenCard programme is laying the foundations of skills development for solar PV embedded generation installations and supporting new entrants into the market to ensure best practice and quality in the industry.
"SAPVIA looks forward to continuing its close collaboration with the government to ensure that renewables and solar PV specifically contribute to South Africa’s sustainable, secure energy mix and achieving higher economic growth and employment levels," Govender concludes.