Coal reliance: SA Picks clean-energy bidders

Solar energy panels. (AFP)

Solar energy panels. (AFP)

South Africa chose 17 preferred bids for almost 1 500 megawatts of green energy projects and is still studying candidates under a programme to cut its reliance on coal.

"A large number of very competitive bid responses were submitted" for onshore wind and photovoltaic sites in a third round of the program, the Energy Department said on its website.

The government picked seven bidders for 787 megawatts of onshore wind farms, six for 450 megawatts of photovoltaic parks, one for 16.5 megawatts of biomass, one for 18 megawatts of landfill gas and two for 200 megawatts of concentrated solar. It will decide on further bidders by November 20, the department said.

South Africa, seeking to cut dependence on coal for power, plans to add 3 725 megawatts of renewable-energy capacity by the end of 2016 with five tenders. That may help state utility Eskom Holdings to meet demand as it struggles to pay for maintenance and expansion in the continent’s biggest economy.

A group led by Mainstream Renewable Power, based in Dublin, Ireland, was made a preferred bidder for three wind farms worth R9-billion and with a total capacity of 360 megawatts in the Northern Cape, the company said in a statement. It was awarded 238 megawatts of wind and solar projects in the first round of the program in 2011 and the three projects are on schedule to be fully operational in mid-2014, Mainstream said.

Power rates would be competitive due to caps of R1.40 a kilowatt hour for solar and R1 for wind, Kensani Eaglestone Capital Advisory, Deputy Managing Director Nuno Gil said July 19. That follows a drop of as much as 40% in average bidding prices from the first to second rounds.

Twenty-year power-purchase agreements with state utility Eskom helped drive $5.7-billion of clean-energy investments to the country last year, or about a quarter of the total invested in sub-Saharan Africa, Bloomberg New Energy Finance data show. – Bloomberg



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