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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent speech on the comprehensive energy response plan included the momentous plans for new solar and battery procurement along with cutting down the licensing and permitting delays, as the public utility Eskom scrambles to reduce the scale of blackouts.
The plan which focuses on increasing decentralized power generation and accelerating procurement of new energy capacity in the country includes doubling the scale of the next round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP). Ramaphosa announced the amount of new generation capacity procured via Bid Window 6 to be doubled from 2.6 GW to 5.2 GW.
The sixth bid window of the REIPPPP was launched in April 2022 and was previously targeted to procure 1 GW of solar and 1.6 GW of wind capacity. The recent announcement encourages businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar PV systems and the surplus power could be sold to Eskom.
Last year, the South African government changed the threshold at which grid-connected renewable energy projects would require a license, increasing the limit from 1 MW to 100 MW. The move unlocked a pipeline of more than 80 private clean energy projects with a combined capacity of more than 6 GW. As a result of this success, the President committed to entirely removing the licensing threshold for distributed-generation solar and wind power plants.
Ramaphosa mentioned the new renewable energy installations would have to fulfill technical requirements for grid connection along with meeting the environmental standards. However, no date was provided for the introduction of license-free clean energy project developments.
The government will take a pragmatic outlook toward the local content requirements for the new projects and prioritize the need to develop these facilities as soon as possible. A request for proposals will be also issued in September with the aim of procuring an unspecified amount of battery storage capacity.