South Africa’s high court rejects legal action over content rules in 2 GW tech-neutral tender


The Gauteng Division of South Africa's High Court has rejected a lawsuit filed by Suntech Solar Power South Africa to challenge the alleged exemptions granted to South African module providers ARTsolar and Seraphim Solar South Africa – a unit of Vietnamese supplier Seraphim —  from complying with the local content requirements of the tech-neutral procurement process for 2 GW of capacity initiated by the South African Department of Mineral Resources (DMRE) in August 2020.

“Whilst a clearly orchestrated plan was set in motion which sought to tarnish our good name and reputation as the only 100% South African owned photovoltaic manufacturer, we are glad that the Court saw through this and dismissed this ill-conceived application with costs,” ARTSolar CEO Viren Gosai told pv magazine.

In its lawsuit, Suntech Solar Power South Africa described the exemptions granted to the two companies as “unlawful,” adding that they excluded all other module suppliers from competitively participating in the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP).

“(It) forces preferred bidders to procure from ARTsolar and Seraphim and its Chinese partners, LONGi Solar and Seraphim China,” South African media outlet Engineering News cited Suntech Solar as saying in the lawsuit.

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The tender was launched in response to a chronic short-term electricity supply gap that has been affecting the country and its mining sector. Renewable energy developers were also allowed to participate.

The RMIPPPP attracted 28 bid responses with a potential contracted capacity of approximately 5.12 GW. The DMRE selected eight preferred bids totaling 1.85 GW. Around 60% of the 2 GW tender capacity was awarded to several floating power plants powered by liquefied natural gas, but several PV projects were ultimately selected and they had to compete in ensuring a certain level of local content requirements – not only with other technologies, but also with each other.

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