Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) president Sugen Pillay urged government on Wednesday to urgently restart its “successful” renewable-energy procurement programme to help address the country’s prevailing electricity crisis.
Briefing the media in Johannesburg, Pillay said CESA was particularly keen for the fifth bid window of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) to be initiated, as the REIPPPP was a stand-out example of a public procurement scheme that had worked.
“In addition to its value as a short-term intervention towards addressing our electricity crisis, it will also inject, albeit small, much-needed project opportunities for consulting engineers and contractors,” he added.
The Integrated Resource Plan 2019 (IRP 2019), which was published in October, calls for 1 600 MW of wind and 1 000 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity to be added in most years between 2020 and 2030, translating to the addition of more than 17 000 MW of new wind and 8 200 MW of new solar PV (excluding embedded generation) capacity in ten years.
For procurement to be initiated, however, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe needs to publish Ministerial determinations in line with Section 34 of the Electricity Regulation Act and to do so with the concurrence of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa.
To date, Mantashe has not published the document, with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) instead focusing on a Risk Mitigation Power Procurement Programme, the implementation of which will be guided by responses to a request for information (RFI) on short-term supply and demand options.
The DMRE had given itself a month from the January 31 RFI closing date to evaluate the responses and develop a procurement programme or programmes.
Separately to CESA, the South African Wind Energy Association and the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association urged the Minister this week to proceed with the next REIPPPP round in parallel to the Risk Mitigation Power Procurement Programme.
The industry bodies described such an action as a “no-regret” move in light of the country’s current power deficits and the fact that wind and solar PV are recognised in the IRP 2019 as the cheapest electricity technologies for South Africa.
The technologies are also relatively quick to build, but have historically still required a lead time, from bidding to commercial operation, of 18 to 24 months, which would mean that the first electricity would be introduced only in 2022.
Deployment could be accelerated, however, should developers resubmit projects selected in 2015 as part of the so-called ‘expedited round’ of the REIPPPP, which was eventually cancelled after protracted delays, caused by Eskom’s refusal to sign new power purchase agreements.
Besides reinitiating the REIPPPP, Pillay said CESA was also keen for other successful delivery mechanisms to be revitalised, including the South African National Roads Agency’s concession programmes, as well as build-operate-train-and-transfer schemes that had been successfully deployed previously.
“These implementation models could be transferred to other types of infrastructure, such as general maintenance of infrastructure, the provision of water and sanitation, as well as waste management. A mindset shift is required, though, from the implementing departments so that these tried-and-tested tools can be used to effect short-term, high-impact intervention.”