South Africa’s Minister of Energy Mmamoloko Kubayi has announced it will sign the outstanding PPAs for 37 large-scale renewable energy projects on October 28, according to the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA).
In early April, when Kubayi was appointed, the minister had postponed indefinitely the deadline for the signing of the PPAs for large-scale wind and solar projects being implemented under the latest Round 3.5 and Round 4 of the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
“By confirming dates for the financial close of the Round 3.5 and Round 4 projects,” SAPVIA said in a press release, “the government is sending out a signal that indeed, as President Zuma stated last week, ‘South Africa is open for business’. The delays in the programme have endangered long term investor confidence, investment and more specifically job creation and retention in this market.”
The REIPPPP program has suffered several delays over the past two years due to grid-connection issues and Eskom’s unwillingness to sign the PPAs granted under the program.
The South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC), however, has recently said that all of the issues related to the projects raised by the power utility have been addressed by the Ministry of Finance, the energy regulator NERSA and the Department of Energy.
All these entities were urged in February by the country’s president Jacon Zuma to move forward with the signing of the PPAs. “The government is committed to the overall Independent Power Producers Programme, and we are expanding the programme to other sources of energy including coal and gas, in addition to renewable energy,” said Zuma at the time.
South Africa’s PV capacity had reached 1,474 MW at the end of December 2016, according to a report released by the country’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The country saw an increase in new grid-connected PV installations of approximately 509 MW in 2016. In the previous year, the report reveals, newly installed PV capacity was only 5 MW, while in 2014 the country saw the addition of PV systems totaling 750 MW. At the end of 2013, cumulative installed PV capacity was 210 MW.
The very low amount of new PV capacity installed in 2015 was due to the fact that several PV projects developed under the REIPPPP were delayed because of the above-mentioned grid-connection issues.