Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has proposed a “mega bid window” for the procurement of renewable energy to curb rolling blackouts, even as previous plans to build clean power generation have been delayed.
Ramokgopa recommended buying a minimum of 15GW of energy, in addition to other measures that go beyond a seventh round of auctions for renewable-power supply that’s already planned. The proposal is evidence of the country’s commitment to green power, the minister said at a solar energy conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday, even as he pushes to extend the life of coal-fired electricity plants.
The plan to acquire renewable energy was presented to the governing ANC’s highest decision-making body over the weekend. It adds to other measures he’s proposed to end daily blackouts that are hobbling economic growth, including the use of diesel turbines to generate emergency power.
The request for a mega bid window would be made to the department of mineral resources & energy, led by minister Gwede Mantashe, according to the presentation. South Africa’s programme to buy renewable energy from private producers has succeeded in drawing developers and building projects, but the auctions have faced multiple delays in recent years, despite attempts by President Cyril Ramaphosa to accelerate and expand them. The plans to add additional renewable energy generation have also been hampered by a lack of capacity on the grid.
Ramokgopa’s recommendations to the ANC’s national executive committee also called for expediting the financial close of remaining projects from bid windows 5 and 6 of the renewable energy programme “and to urgently finalise” the release of further bid windows for solar, wind, battery storage and gas by the end of May 2023, according to the presentation.
Bid window 7 should be released next month for 5GW of solar and wind technologies where grid connections are available, the presentation showed. Proposals for 1.2GW of battery storage and 3GW of gas will also be requested before June. — Antony Sguazzin and Paul Burkhardt, with S’thembile Cele, (c) 2023 Bloomberg LP