S.Africa agrees to buy an additional 1,456mw in clean power

Power Transmission 104 November 2013, Pretoria – South Africa will buy an extra 1,456 megawatts of renewable energy from independent developers to boost power supply and reduce its reliance on coal-fired power stations.

The department of energy said on Monday that it had signed agreements with power producers for 17 projects worth 33 billion rand (3.25 billion dollars) in the third stage of the renewable energy buying programme.

South Africa had already signed off a total of 47 projects to build about 2,400 MW in the first and second stage of the clean energy drive.

Eskom, the state-owned power utility, will be buying the power from the independent producers once the plants are built.

“It is anticipated that by December 2013, some of these projects will deliver energy,” energy minister Ben Martins told reporters at a briefing announcing the preferred bidders.

South Africa depends on coal for 85 percent of its electricity supply of around 41,000 megawatts, almost all of it generated by Eskom.

Two years ago the country launched the process to procure cleaner energy to reduce carbon emissions and bolster a strained power supply.

The process of adding more renewable power to the grid and having private players participate in generation has dragged on for years, raising doubts about the government’s ability to deliver on its plans.

Progress made over the past year has won widespread praise from across the private sector and from bankers.

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