Solar’s Role In Tackling South Africa’s Energy Crisis

To reinforce the need for the procurement round, South Africa experienced its worst year yet with planned energy crisis, also known as load shedding, according to the National Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Solar’s role in tackling South Africa’s energy crisis

Solar’s Role In Tackling South Africa’s Energy Crisis : In order to alleviate crippling supply bottlenecks and reduce the use of high-performance diesel systems, the South African government launched a technology-independent emergency tender for 2 GW of generation capacity last August.

The Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (RMIPPPPP) stipulated that allocable electricity must be provided when it is needed most – daily between 5:00 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. – in order to reduce capacity bottlenecks in the network.

To reinforce the need for the procurement round, South Africa experienced its worst year yet with planned energy crisis, also known as load shedding, according to the National Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The country was hit by 859 hours of load shedding, almost 10% of 2020 without electricity.

Since several generation plants at different locations can be offered as a single allocable project, the RMIPPPP initially concluded with eight preferential bids, which will provide a total of 1,845 MW of contractually agreed capacity from projects that combine technologies such as photovoltaics, wind and liquefied natural gas and battery storage.

Although these successful offers envisaged a total solar capacity of 1,147 MW, each of these projects would combine PV with diesel, reciprocating gas engines, or LGP.

In order to illustrate the potential of Solar-Plus storage systems for the provision of switchable electricity, it was announced at the beginning of this month that Scatec would be granted the status of a preferred bidder for three systems of the same size with a contractually agreed capacity of 150 MW in total, which will be powered by PV with battery storage, were awarded the only plants in the tender that exclusively use renewable technologies.

The Norwegian company, which has already completed six solar parks in South Africa as part of the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Program (REIPPP), will include 540 MW solar and 225 MW / 1,140 MWh battery storage in Kenhardt plants 1, 2 and 3 the province of North Cape.

To take into account factors such as seasonality and seasonal fluctuations, Scatec has oversized both solar and battery capacity in the factories that will feed solar power into the grid during the day, with excess electricity being used to charge the batteries. Once they are charged and a single project exports 50MW, everything above is trimmed.

Since successful RMIPPPP projects do not have the right to sell excess electricity elsewhere, Jan Fourie, Scatec General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, expects the facilities to “save a considerable amount of energy”. He says the company’s renew-only solution reduces fuel risk for the country: “You don’t have to look into your crystal ball and guess how foreign exchange and commodity prices will perform in the future.”

The tender rules stipulate that the eight original preferred bidders will reach financial close by the end of July 2021, with the first projects expected to go online in August 2022. Purchased PV modules were recently scrapped due to insufficient aluminum supply in the domestic market, says David Núñez Blundell, co-founder of Seraphim Southern Africa, which currently operates a 300 MW module assembly facility in the country’s Eastern Cape Province.

With such a tight schedule for funding and building projects, Núñez Blundell said it would have been risky for developers to rely on local aluminum production to ramp up on time: “I think it will be easier for our IPP customers to Reaching the financial close This regime has been relaxed because it was a huge risk to rely on us to find local aluminum because it is not available. “

The RMIPPPP could see further changes as Karpowership, a Turkish company that has secured 60% of its total contracted capacity through three LNG engines docked at ports, is now being challenged by a competing bidder. With the firm offer to deliver a capacity of 1,220 MW, critics warn that his projects would generate additional fossil fuels during the 20-year contract period.

Last year, fossil fuels provided 89% of South African electricity, with the country at the top of the G20 due to its reliance on coal power, according to Ember. The think tank said in a recent report that over the past decade there has been significant investment in new coal capacity, which has “suffered steep cost increases and construction delays,” raised consumer electricity tariffs, and “caused a slump in demand.” for electricity ”.

Nevertheless, a total of 1.04 GW of new solar and wind power is to be installed in the country in 2020, the first year since 2016 in which annual installations exceeded the gigawatt mark.

Niveshen Govender, COO of the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA), says that while the trade association would have liked to include more solar PV in the RMIPPPP, the government “acted with reasonable urgency to ensure that much needed energy was supplied becomes”. to the sales network “.

He says that the requirements for switchable energy presented renewable energies with a challenge, but the tenders showed the “flexibility and innovation” of solar energy in combination with other renewable energies, gas and energy storage solutions.

The use of solar energy is also driven by the demand from companies that want to protect themselves from ongoing load shedding. At the beginning of the year, the petrochemical company Sasol announced a partnership with the French industrial gas supplier Air Liquide to jointly procure 900 MW of renewable energy by 2030. Sasol said the deal will mark the largest ever clean energy procurement from the South African private sector.

This year, supermarket chain Shoprite also completed rooftop solar panels at 19 locations in South Africa and neighboring Namibia, which will deliver 12,300 MWh of electricity annually, while mining company Gold Fields received regulatory approvals for a 40 MW PV project with around 20% of the electricity requirements of its South Deep Mine.

Additional investments in solar capacity are to be released through reforms announced yesterday (Thursday) by President Cyril Ramaphosa, which increase the license threshold for embedded power generation projects from 1 MW to 100 MW. Ramaphosa said the move reflects the government’s ambition to reduce the impact of load shedding on businesses and households.

The announcement builds on the government’s goal of sourcing 6 GW of photovoltaics through its 2019 Integrated Resource Plan by 2030, with the long-term goal of moving the country to net zero emissions by 2050.

According to the Govender of SAPVIA, the RMIPPPP should be considered together with the REIPPP, with the fifth bidding window taking place this year. In the next year, he says, 1 GW of PV will be procured via this tender window in addition to the construction of 2 GW of RMIPPPP, and adds: “The next 12 months are filled with fantastic prospects for the PV sector.”

Originally published at Daily solar power news

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