Industry body the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) has applauded the “determination put forward by the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe to mobilise the private sector to address the threats to energy security but cautions that there is no more time to waste”.
Responding to the Budget Vote speech delivered by Mmamaloko Kubayi-Ngubane on behalf of Mantashe earlier this week, SAPVIA says the private sector stands ready and able to act with pace to meet the rise in demand with a secure, sustainable energy supply.
“Stakeholders from across the renewables sector, and specifically solar PV, need only to be given the green light on bid window 5 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), and they will invest and drive the infrastructure development we so desperately need,” says SAPVIA COO Niveshen Govender.
“Solar PV represents the least costly and fastest to commercial operation of all energy sources and will address the Minister’s concerns that there is insufficient time to bring in grid-scale generation options due to long lead times.”
Utility-scale solar PV projects take between 18 and 24 months from signing the power purchase agreement to commercial operation date (COD).
This could even be achieved in 12 months given an enabling environment.
On the other hand, small-scale embedded generation projects take 12 months on average and could be reduced to six to eight months given an enabling environment.
“The urgency with which the Minister is treating the situation is welcomed, but this needs to be measured in actions rather than words,” adds Govender.
“SAPVIA welcomes the proposed amendments to New Generation Capacity Regulations and would urge that the clarification for requirements from municipalities when they apply for Section 34 Determinations from the Department come sooner rather than later.”
“As a priority, the Minister must increase the current exemption from licensing from 1 MW to 10 MW for energy generation installations. We believe this is an arbitrary limit set as a policy decision and has no technical basis, and by raising it private sector operators will be able to step into the gap and deliver much-needed supply quickly and with minimal upgrades to a large number of substations, or nodes on the distribution network,” he says.