South Africa could soon procure more power from existing independent power producers (IPPs) to plug the country’s electricity supply gap. An initiative dubbed “Additional Megawatt Programme” will see the country’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) entering into agreements with existing renewables IPPs to procure additional energy that wind and solar farms could supply, over and above, what is currently allowed under their existing Power Purchase Agreements.
The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), has engaged with its members to ascertain if the sector is able to provide additional power, in line with the recent call for additional energy from existing Independent Power Producers (IPPs) by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE).
“We welcome this call from government and can confirm that several of our IPP members have indicated that they will be responding, as they are of the view that it is possible to run their wind turbine generators (WTG) at higher power output or include a power boost to increase generation output of already installed wind turbines,” explained Ntombifuthi Ntuli, CEO of SAWEA.
She added that the industry will be seeking clarification on practical details of the ‘Additional Megawatt Programme’, but that the responds has been positive overall. Additionally, it can be noted that late 2019, when the country reached unprecedented Stage 6 load shedding, SAWEA called for the immediate release of available additional capacity from operational wind farms into the national grid, by lifting the Maximum Export Capacity (MEC) on all operating wind farms.
“Earlier this month, the IPP Office issued a call to all operational IPPs with projects in Bid Window 1 to 4, to make available additional capacity from their operational plants, in order to contribute towards closing the power supply capacity gap. It is therefore encouraging to see that industry proposals are being taken seriously by government and are now being implemented,” said Ntuli.
IPPs to help meet Increased electricity demand
South Africa has been plagued with power shortages for a long time due to demand exceeding available supply capacity. This is despite Government’s efforts to implement a number of programmes to try and close the capacity gap, which include the announcement of preferred bidders for the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP) and issuing of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) Round 5 Request for Proposals (RFP) as well as announcing future procurement plans.
“Eskom’s Electricity Availability Factor has been below recommended levels for a very long time, as demonstrated by the protracted load shedding that our country has been experiencing for well over a decade now. This indicates an urgent need to procure new generation capacity, both in the long term and short term, in order to bring the available capacity to healthy levels again,” added Ntuli.
She also stated that it is clear from the response, that the wind industry is committed to cooperating with government and participating is such initiatives in order to address the current power crisis.