Great news for wind and solar energy in South Africa

Wind energy will play a major role in the future of the South African energy grid.
This is according to Ntombifuthi Ntuli, who is the CEO of the South Africa Wind Energy Association (SAWEA).
Ntuli noted that the allocated annual capacity of 1,600MW to windpower will make up a total of 14.4GW of power supply by 2030.
“Therefore wind energy will play a significant role in the energy transition as it will contribute 18% to the total power system by 2030,” she explained.
Simultaneously, almost 12GW of coal power capacity is expected to be decommissioned over the next decade, which Ntuli said means that wind energy will be the biggest contributor in closing the capacity gap caused by this decommissioning process.
Ntuli told MyBroadband that great progress is being made in the process of adding more wind power to the national grid.
“There are several projects that have already been developed, achieving all necessary authorisations, all that is remaining is submission in the next bidding round, which we expect should be issued before the end of 2020,” said Ntuli.

Government’s timing is “perfect”

The government recently gave Eskom permission to source 12,000MW of power from independent entities, with 6,800MW of this coming from renewable sources.
Ntuli said that this is a great decision that came at a crucial time.
“South Africa is currently going through an energy crisis while at the same time trying to recover from the dire impacts that COVID-19 had on the economy,” said Ntuli.
“The timing of this Ministerial determination was perfect as it gives a green light to the DMRE to go ahead and procure the determined capacity of 11,800 MW.”
She said that the benefit of this for South Africa is that the energy supply capacity gap can be closed by these sources of power, and added that it will also prove financially beneficial to the country.
“Procuring 6,800 MW from renewable energy producers actually means that South Africa will attract annual investments for the duration of the determination period,” said Ntuli.
“This is investment that the country really needs at the moment in the context of post-COVID-19 economic recovery. This infrastructure investment will yield other economic benefits for the country, including jobs, socio-economic development, localisation of equipment and production of low-cost electricity.”

Government moving in the right direction

Ntuli told MyBroadband that government has become more supportive of renewable energy recently.
“We started the year with a firm commitment from President Cyril Ramaphosa during the state of the nation address, to take measures to rapidly and significantly increase generation capacity outside of Eskom in order address the energy crisis,” Ntuli noted.
“It has been our observation that government has worked very hard, even during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that this commitment is realised during 2020, something that we applaud as an industry.”
She also noted that the gazetting of regulations has allowed municipalities which are in good financial standing to procure their own power from IPPs.
“Another progress we have witnessed is the recent announcement by NERSA that the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy has approved that NERSA may process licence applications for self-generation facilities of above 1MW even if they are not in compliance with the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2019),” Ntuli added.
Other key policy moves Ntuli noted include:

  • Two section 34 determinations were issued this year – one for procurement of emergency power and other for procurement of power from different technologies.
  • The Risk Mitigation IPP procurement programme RFP was issued in August, procuring emergency power from various technologies.
  • The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) announced in parliament that it intended entering into agreements with existing renewables IPPs to procure 128 MW of additional energy that wind and solar farms.
  • During the recent debate on the economic recovery plan, the DMRE Minister Gwede Mantashe confirmed that the REIPPPP bid window 5 would be issued in December 2020.

Ntuli also acknowledged Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan and Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyters’ recent statements regarding government’s intentions to implement an Independent Transmission Grid System and Market Operator (ITSMO) in South Africa.