Renewables body optimistic next bidding round can be ‘expedited’

16th September 2020 By: Terence Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

Renewables body optimistic next bidding round can be ‘expedited’

Photo by: Creamer Media

The South African Renewable Energy Council (Sarec) expressed optimism on Wednesday that the long-awaited fifth bid window (BW5) of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme could be fast-tracked in light of the energy regulator’s recent concurrence with a Ministerial determination opening the way for the procurement of 11 813 MW of new generation capacity.

In a statement signed by chairperson Terence Govender, Sarec said the determination “came ahead of its initially anticipated date”, giving its members hope that the BW5 request for proposals (RFP) could be “expedited”.

Sarec members include the Solar Thermal Association of Southern Africa, the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association, the South African Energy Storage Association and the South African Wind Energy Association.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has indicated that it is aiming to release the BW5 bid documentation in December, while the Political Task Team on Eskom, which is chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza, has stated that the DMRE would open-up various bid-windows, including BW5, and that the “process will be completed in December 2020”.

The determination has not yet been formally Gazetted, but the DMRE expects that it will be published within the coming week.

Besides a procurement allocation of 4 800 MW for onshore wind and 2 000 MW for solar photovoltaic generators, the determination also caters for 3 000 MW of gas to power, 1 500 MW of new coal and 513 MW of energy storage.

“The industry has been waiting for the past five years for a new bid window, which is essential to close the electricity supply capacity gap created by Eskom’s reduced energy availability factor,” Govender said in a statement.

He added that the renewables industry had developed a pipeline of projects over the past five to 10 years, which would “ensure a positive response to the RFP that will meet all government requirements”.

Sarec was also keen for renewables to be coupled with storage, arguing that such a move could provide low tariffs and support job creation and localisation.

In light of the ongoing risk of load-shedding, Sarec said additional renewable energy was required to assist with the country’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, as it could provide “quick grid power”.