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South Africa Approves 15 Solar PV Projects Under New Distributed-Generation Rules

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The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) has announced the approval of sixteen power projects with a combined capacity of 211 MW. Fifteen of the project applications are for solar PV plants and one is for a wind farm. The new renewable energy projects are expected to operate under the regulatory framework of South Africa for distributed-generation power facilities.

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Twelve projects are expected to be connected to the national utility Eskom’s grid and the rest four will be linked to municipal networks in the Gauteng province. Among these four power facilities, two will be based in the City of Tshwane and the other two will be based in the City of Ekurhuleni and Emfuleni Local Municipality, respectively.

The capacity of power facilities ranges from 0.1 MW to 80 MW. The biggest among the registered projects is the 80 MW solar plant by Lephalale Solar which will be connected to Eskom’s grid. Second is the 72 MW Msenge Emoyeni wind farm, which will also be connected to the public utility’s grid.

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According to Nersa, eleven power facilities are going to generate electricity for their own consumption, whereas the other five facilities will be generating electricity for commercial uses. All the project developers have acquired connection approvals from licensed distributors.

All the project applications were submitted to Nersa in April and those were processed within a 19-day deadline. The fast registration process is very encouraging for businesses ready to generate electricity.

Nersa has approved 54 generation facilities in the first quarter of 2022 at a total investment cost of R452 million (~$30 million). The apex energy regulator has processed 216 projects since August 2021, after the government changed the legislative on distributed power generation to improve the entire permitting process.

Under the new rules, the threshold for the distributed-generation segment is raised to 100 MW, exempting the power developers from applying for generation licenses. The developers need to pay a wheeling fee to Eskom for the maintenance and upkeep of their project infrastructure.

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