South Africa delays REIPPPP solar bid decision

South Africa Energy minister Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson has failed to announce the much-anticipated winners of the fourth bid window of the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), leaving the fate of the process to speculation.

The department of energy had initially released a program for the fourth bid window indicating the project’s final registration date as July 21, with the final submission date being August 18, 2014.

If the program would have progressed as originally scheduled, the preferred bidders should have been announced on Monday and could, by now, have signed power purchase agreements, direct agreements, implementation agreements and connection agreements and financial close not later than July 31, 2015.

Monday’s delay to announce the preferred winners for the fourth bid window comes at a time when state-owned power utility Eskom has confirmed its inability to connect more independent power projects to the grid, leading to a delayed financial closure for the 17 third bid window preferred projects for the allocation of 1,473 MW.

Third bid window Solar PV projects whose financial close was shifted out include Adams Solar PV2 (75 MW); Tom Burke Solar Park (60 MW); Mulilo Sonnedix Prieska PV (75 MW); Electra Capital (75 MW); Pulida Solar Park (75 MW), and Mulilo Prieska PV (75 MW). The third bid window allocation increased the total allocation for solar PV in South Africa’s REIPPPP to 1,484 MW with an additional 1,041 MW remaining for subsequent bid allocation.

But by end-of-play Monday, the Ministry of Energy had still not confirmed when the announcement of the preferred bidders would take place after the anticipated November 24 date expired.

On 15 September 2014 the ministry had sent out letters to certain fourth bid submission phase bidders, which had submitted bid responses, seeking further clarification before their bids could proceed to the next level of evaluation.

"Those Bidders that have been requested to provide the Department of Energy with clarification in relation to their Bid Responses must do so between 9:00 am and 2:oo pm on 23 September 2014," the ministry had said in the letter.

According to Eskom, 26 solar PV projects announced during the first and second bid windows with a total capacity of slightly more than 1,049 MW have been connected to the grid and are either in full operation or in the early stages of operation. A total of 47 renewables projects were currently either producing electricity for sale into the Eskom grid, or remained under construction across South Africa.

Meanwhile, Eskom says it has serious grid constraints, which had become a major impediment to the connection of some of the round-three projects.