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South Africa weighs mega renewable-energy tender to curb outages

25th April 2023

By: Bloomberg

  

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Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa proposed a “mega bid window” for the procurement of renewable energy to curb rolling blackouts, even as previous plans to build clean power generation have been delayed.

Ramokgopa recommended buying a minimum of 15 000 MW of energy, in addition to other measures that go beyond a seventh round of auctions for renewable-power supply that’s already planned. The proposal is evidence of the country’s commitment to green power, the minister said at a solar-energy conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday, even as he pushes to extend the life of coal-fired electricity plants.

The plan to acquire renewable energy was presented to the governing African National Congress’s highest decision-making body over the weekend. It adds to other measures he’s proposed to end daily blackouts that are hobbling economic growth in Africa’s most industrialised nation, including the use of diesel turbines to generate emergency power, according to the proposal seen by Bloomberg.

The request for a mega bid window would be made to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, led by Minister Gwede Mantashe, according to the presentation. South Africa’s program to buy renewable energy from private producers has succeeded in drawing developers and building projects, but the auctions have faced multiple delays in recent years, despite attempts by President Cyril Ramaphosa to accelerate and expand them. The plans to add additional renewable energy generation have also been hampered by a lack of capacity on the grid.

Ramokgopa’s recommendations to the ANC’s National Executive Committee also called for expediting the financial close of remaining projects from Bid Window 5 and 6 of the renewable-energy program “and to urgently finalise” the release of further bid windows for solar, wind, battery storage and gas by the end of May 2023, according to the presentation.

Bid Window 7 should be released next month for 5 000 MW of solar and wind technologies where grid connections are available, the presentation showed. Proposals for 1 200 MW of battery storage and 3 000 MW of gas will also be requested before June.

Edited by Bloomberg

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