“A new bid round – BW5 of the Renewable Energy IPP Programme – will be launched this year and it is estimated [it will secure] 1800 MW of similar technologies, as in the expedited bid window,” South Africa’s Minister for Energy Jeff Radebe has announced on his ministry’s twitter account.
“This could bring another ZAR40-50 billion [$3.16-3.95 billion] of investment to the country, and ensure investment and economic growth as well as the opportunity to encourage opportunities for black industrialists and the development of black independent power producers,” said Mr Radebe.
If implemented, the new procurement round may help the country resume a virtuous path towards renewable energy development after a hiatus of more than three years. A first move to jump-start the drive for renewables was made by the South African government in early April when, after several failed attempts, it finally signed off all of the 27 outstanding PPAs awarded in rounds 3.5 and 4 of the REIPP program that had been halted by the troubled financial situation of utility Eskom, the buyer of the allocated power. The developers of the projects in question had been forced to renegotiate the PPAs and accept lower prices.
According to the latest statistics, published by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa’s PV capacity reached 1,474 MW at the end of December 2016. However another 813 MW – from the newly-signed off outstanding PPAs – is expected to come online in the months ahead.
The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) unveiled in December a five point action plan aimed at boosting solar energy development in the country by at least 1.5 GW per year.