SA solar plant allocation low
Pretoria - It is a concern that the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) has allocated only 50 megawatts (MW) for Concentrated Solar Plants (CSPs) by 2013, the Southern Africa Solar Thermal and Electricity Association (Sastela) said on Tuesday.
"The current project pipeline under development is between 500 and 1 000 MW... we recommend that Nersa revises the CSP allocation to 500 MW by 2013," Sastela spokesperson Pancho Ndebele told Nersa's hearing in Pretoria on the selection criteria for renewable energy projects under the Refit (renewable energy feed-in tariff) programme.
According to Nersa, a Refit is a mechanism to promote the deployment of renewable energy that obliges certain institutions to buy the output from qualifying renewable energy generators at pre-determined prices.
Ndebele said it was Sastela's aim to promote the roll-out of a fleet of CSP thermal and power plants for the production of sustainable peak, mid-merit and base load solar thermal electricity and industrial thermal applications in Southern Africa. He added that learning from Spain's experience had become the "epicentre" of CSP development.
Lessons from Spain
"An enabling environment was created by the Spanish Government through a special feed-in tariff legislation in 2007... the legislation known as Royal Decree 661/2007 calls for the implementation of 500 MW of CSP by 2010 and this has largely been responsible for the development of the Spanish CSP industry," Ndebele said.
Turning to Nersa's rules, he added that 875 MW of renewable energy by 2013 was not substantial enough to promote growth in the CSP industry beyond 2013.
"This should be revisited," he said.
He added that Nersa's preference for projects with advanced Environmental Impact Approvals (EIA) needed to be re-examined.
"The EIA scoring needs to be revised to create a fair, level playing field in that most projects have only just commenced with the EIA preparation process because of the uncertainty that has existed with regards to the power purchase agreement... most project sponsors could not commit funds for EIAs as a result of the uncertainty, in particular the smaller developers."
Nersa was holding hearings over two days on the selection criteria for renewable energy projects under the Refit programme.