The latest round of renewable independent power producer (IPP) projects could soon offer respite from load shedding, according to a Business Insider South Africa report.
President Cyril Ramaphosa pushed through the signing of 27 IPP projects under bid window 4 in April 2018 and they have been in construction since then.
When fully completed, the projects will supply a total of 2,300MW of electricity to the national grid.
Potentially prevent stage 2 load shedding
This could be enough to potentially prevent stage 2 load shedding, which effectively means Eskom is shedding 2,000MW of electricity.
The procurement process for bid window 4 had stalled for two years after Eskom announced in 2016 that it would no longer sign IPP agreements.
The projects will supply a mix of wind, solar, biomass, and hydro power to the grid, potentially saving Eskom billions of rand currently used for emergency diesel generators.
Solar projects will be the first to come online in February 2020, according to the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA). They will reach their full capacity of 813MW in November 2020.
Wind projects from July 2020
Wind projects, which will contribute the most power under this bid window, will however take a little longer, according to the South Africa Wind Energy Association (SAWEA).
For instance, construction at Kangnas Wind Farm in the Northern Cape started in June 2018 and is scheduled for completion in August 2020. The Farm is projected to supply 140MW to the grid.
The Perdekraal East Wind Farm in the Western Cape will supply 107MW when completed in July 2020.
Enel Green Power is expected to add 700MW from its wind power projects by 2021. Most of the remaining projects will also be completed in 2021.
Meanwhile, Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe is under pressure to start a new round of IPP procurements as part of the newly released Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).
If signed now, the new projects would take 18-24 months to come into commercial operation. Given Eskom’s challenges, energy experts say South Africa doesn’t have time to wait.
One of them, Anton Eberhard, tweeted recently, “Here we go again. Eskom power cuts. South Africa is desperately short of power.
“I remain gobsmacked that Energy Minister @GwedeMantashe1 is not implementing his electricity IRP plan through new IPP procurements and is not relaxing licensing for distributed private generation investment.”