SOUTH AFRICA – The South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has launched a tech-neutral procurement of 2 GW of short-term risk-mitigation capacity, which will see solar among the competing technologies.

The DMRE had specified in December 2019 that the procured capacity should be connected to the grid in the shortest amount of time at the lowest possible cost.

“The objective of the RMIPPPP is, not only to alleviate the current electricity supply constraints, but also, to reduce the utilisation of diesel-based peaking electrical generators,” the DMRE said.

“The programme seeks to procure 2000 MW from a range of energy sources and technologies. Proposed technical solutions will have to be dispatchable and be able to provide a range of support services to the grid system operator.”

The tender is aimed at reducing South Africa’s dependence on Eskom for power supply. The troubled utility, which is currently unable to meet the country’s power demand due to financial and operational issues, recently began considering renewables for its plant portfolio.

It launched a tender for the deployment of 80 MW/ 320 MWh of energy storage capacity at its Skaapvlei substation in the Western Cape region in August, and another tender to repurpose coal plants with low-carbon growth tech in April.

This tender, together with another one for a small solar project issued in October, follows the recent publication of South Africa’s new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which aims for up to 6 GW of new large-scale solar by 2030 as well as up to 6 GW of distributed-generation capacity.

Power projects selected in the tender will have to begin commercial operations by the end of June 2022.

The DMRE said it expected that the procurement process would attract investments of about R40-billion and indicated that projects procured under the risk mitigation were expected to be fully operational by no later than the end of June 2022.

Meanwhile, South African businesses are resorting to solar and renewables to improve their power supply. These include Arcelormittal, South Africa-based chemicals producer Sasol and several mining companies.

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