The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) has been named as a respondent in an application filed by Suntech Solar Power South Africa (Pty) Ltd on 3 September 2021. The legal case is against the minister in the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (dtic).
[This story is updated on 13 October below]
Suntech Solar has taken the decision to challenge the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme’s (RMIPPPP) decision-making process and the associated empirical data utilised that led to retrospective exemptions from designated local content (DLC) requirements.
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The RMIPPPP provides detailed local content requirements for 14 components plus subcomponents that might be used in the power projects such as electric cables and steel products. The solar PV system and components category of the programme requires certain components such as module frames to be made or sourced locally.
However, certain preferred bidders were granted exemptions to source them elsewhere as the country does not have the required capacity.
In its court papers, Suntech described the exemptions as “unlawful” as they would force other preferred bidders to procure from rival bidders.
A press release issued by SAPVIA, states that the association fully supports the objectives of the dtic, and that SAPVIA’s efforts are therefore focused on ensuring an enabling environment for local manufacturing and ultimately industrialisation which needs to be done responsibly and sustainably, making economic sense.
SAPVIA COO, Niveshen Govender, said: “We have engaged Suntech on this matter to better understand their position and further reached out to the dtic to facilitate a conversation before legal action was taken. As we understand, the dtic should be in a position to respond to the challenge with the record of decision and empirical data-based research.”
The association further notes that Suntech Solar is a member of SAPVIA in good standing.
As the representative body of the solar PV sector in South Africa, and as a result of our extensive efforts in driving sustainable and responsible localisation, including specific engagements with government and industry at large on this matter, SAPVIA has been cited as an interested party.
“No legal action is being taken against the association,” Govender concludes.
STORY UPDATED 13 October 8am SAST
On 8 October, the Gauteng Division of South Africa’s High Court dismissed the 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 from complying with the local content requirements of the tech-neutral procurement process for 2GW of capacity initiated by the South African Department of Mineral Resources (DMRE) in August 2020.
A representative from ARTSolar said: “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.”