Three emergency power projects get the green light

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Scatec has experience in building solar projects in South Africa.
Scatec has experience in building solar projects in South Africa.
  • Three emergency power projects will add 150MW of new power to the grid before the end of 2023.
  • The projects will be based in the Northern Cape and wll each dispatch 50MW of power to the grid each day. 
  • Eight other projects must still be signed. 

Power purchase agreements for three emergency power projects have been signed, ensuring 150MW of new power will be plugged into the grid before the end of next year.

The projects form part of government’s Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP), an emergency power initiative that was intended to rapidly fill South Africa’s energy gap, but which has faced numerous delays.

Still not signed are eight other projects, including the controversial Karpowership SA projects, that account for 1 220MW of the 1 900MW procurement programme, but which have been unable to obtain the requisite permits.

The power purchase agreements signed at a ceremony hosted by the Independent Power Producers (IPP) Office on Thursday pertain to three hybrid solar and storage projects to be developed by Scatec, a leading renewables company.

All three projects will be based in the Northern Cape, with each intended to dispatch 50MW of power into the grid each day.

Bernard Magoro, head of the IPP Office, said the solution was "one of a kind" and would be the first time South Africa would have dispatchable capacity from renewable technologies.

It is also one of the largest, if not the largest, hybrid solar and storage project in the world, he said.

Scatec CEO, Terje Pilskog, said the novel solution would dispatch power between 05:00 and 21:30 each day. The projects, he noted, had competed against all other energy sources and are preferred bids in the programme to use renewable energy only.

As of Thursday, the projects have 60 days to reach financial close. Thereafter, Scatec has 18 months to complete the projects. 

Karpowerships 'work very well' - Mantashe

Minerals Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said: "The projects that we are signing today are going to make a big contribution." It is, however, not enough, he said, noting that the remaining projects should also be finalised – including the Karpowerships, "which work very well" in other parts of Africa where they are deployed.

Magoro said the IPP Office continued to engage with the other preferred bidders - until Wednesday night, in fact.

"There is still opportunity for further engagement. And we will obviously make an announcement, as soon as developments are clear in terms of where we are headed. But it's in the hands of the bidders and government and ourselves to make sure that we close those projects," he said.

"We want them to close, that's why we selected them."

Mantashe further said government would seek to speed up processes to expedite the delivery of new power into the grid. Eighteen months, he said, is not fast enough.

He also said it has now been formally agreed that the Integrated Resource Plan 2019, South Africa’s electricity Infrastructure roadmap, must be revisited to look beyond 2030.

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