Government is processing applications for projects to produce 9.8GW of renewable energy, environment minister Barbara Creecy said.
The requests are for plants that would generate 2.9GW of solar photovoltaic power and 6.9GW of wind energy, Creecy said in an e-mailed copy of a speech to MPs on Friday. Many of those projects include battery storage systems and transmission and distribution infrastructure, she said.
“We are working hard to cut the red tape and get these projects finalised,” Creecy said. “We have reduced our decision-making time frames from 107 days to 57 days.”
The applications come after President Cyril Ramaphosa abolished a limit on the size of power plants private companies can have built for their own use amid the country’s worst-ever outages.
The total is equivalent to almost a third of South Africa’s current electricity demand, which state utility Eskom is failing to meet. Instead, rotational power cuts of more than 10 hours a day are being imposed.
A major constraint to the projects being added to the grid is the lack of adequate transmission infrastructure. Creecy said 15 environmental impact assessments on transmission and environmental infrastructure projects are being considered.
The power crisis has led to calls for South Africa to extend the lives of some of its ageing coal-fired plants. Electricity generated from coal accounts for more than 80% of South Africa’s power and is the main reason the country is the world’s 14th biggest producer of greenhouse gases.
“Concern has been expressed that as we battle load shedding, we are considering delays in decommissioning ageing coal-fired power stations,” Creecy said. “Current modelling will advise how we balance our decommissioning schedule so we can achieve energy security within the context of our climate change commitments and air quality improvement.” — (c) 2023 Bloomberg LP