Renewable energy “’
South Africa is
aiming high
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 16 September 2011 – South Africa is confident that a recently launched bidding process for renewable energy will lead to the addition of 3,725 megawatts (MW) of green energy to the national grid by 2016, despite previous delays.

Africa’s biggest economy has been struggling to meet fast-rising demand for electricity, and the country has also been under pressure to reduce its carbon footprint, with more than 90% of its power currently supplied by coal-fired plants.

Reuters reports that the process of adding more renewable power to the grid has dragged on for years, raising doubts about the government’s ability to deliver on this front. A plan to attract independent producers of renewable energy with subsidised tariffs was scrapped in the face of legal challenges, and regulatory hurdles have also been in the way.

Under the new procurement plan, which does not include subsidies, some 320 developers from South Africa, Europe, North America and Asia have expressed interest to date, and the government is confident it will succeed.

“We see the process is still on track. As much as we have seen who is bidding and how much work needs to be done, we are convinced that this will be done on time,” said Nelisiwe Magubane, the director general at the Department of Energy. “The 3,725MW would be added to an existing national supply of around 41,000MW.”

More than 800 participants crammed into a conference hall on Wednesday to get more details about the rigorous tender process, which was launched in August

Developers have up to 4 November to submit their bids. The preferred bidders will be announced during the global climate change conference held in South Africa in November/December.

“Most lenders have said that this is something they can lend money for,” said Magubane.
“We’ve no experience of procurement of this magnitude and need to make sure that there is adequate skill and that the process is infallible.”

South Africa expects nuclear and renewable energy to play a more crucial role in plugging its power supply deficit as it seeks to halve its reliance on coal-fired plants. According to a new energy master plan, South Africa plans to develop 9,600MW of nuclear power and 17,800MW of renewable power between now and 2030.