Energy Politics

Batteries will enable large-scale renewable energy’s dispatch on South Africa’s grid

After a recent process, there will be a 1300MWh renewable energy storage in South Africa’s power grid via several large-scale projects. Under the Mineral Resources and Energy ministry, South Africa has taken up a tender via the RMIPP (Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Programme) for the 2GW energy capacity necessary to bridge supply and demand. Many independent power makers in the country took part in the program to receiver a 2-decade power purchase agreement for facilities that can supply energy to the grid according to the ESKOM’s requirements with a timeline between 5a/m and 9:30 pm daily.

Having noticed the need and urgency in the energy resources, the 2019 National Integrated Resource Plan launched the tender, and Gwende Mantashe, the minister, announced the winning bidders. The resources will be ready to operate by mid-next year. Gwende explained that this move intends to reduce power supply constraints and reduce diesel fuels’ overdependence.

Recently, the country launched another renewable energy program, REIPPP, thanks to the urgent need to dispatch resources of 11,813MW power capacity from several energy sources. The Risk Mitigation tender received 28 bids whose maximum capacity was 5,117MW, and from this total, 1,845MW is in the preferred bid list and needs to show the ministry that they can serve the energy sector.

The high interest in participants’ capacity demonstrates the love to be part of the country’s energy landscape. This program attracted different participants with new technological concepts, quality, and energy, leading the ministry to evaluate a competitive price. Corentin Basket, an analyst of a Europe-based energy consultancy company, worked with most participants explaining that South Africa urgently improved its capacity to avoid load shedding.

Gas, primarily the LNG, was one of the biggest winners of the auction with a capacity of 428MW. Renewables and storage technologies were in a battle with Gas for deploying power capacity tenders. Winners in the renewable-storage bids include Total, European Energy Majors EDF, and the South Arabian power project. G7 won the most preferred bid alongside Oya Energy Hybrid Facility. G7’s co-founder stated that Oya is a competitive option and exceeds the ministry’s expectations. It pushes the boundaries to show what South Africa can achieve in the renewable energy sector. However, some people still criticize wind and solar energy claiming that these natural sources are not a great option.

The tender specifies that the participating technologies prove their use on a two-year scale. Harmattan and Clean Horizon believe that the winning renewable energy storage projects will utilize lithium-ion batteries. The Mineral Resources and Energy ministry claim that the 2021 July deadline is compulsory due to the agency bringing power online. And these projects are under an R45 billion project in the South African economy.