Energy Update on Coal and Renewables

After a while of silence, today newsworthy information was finally shared by ESKOM as well as the Department of Energy.

h3. Coal-fired Power Plants

Against all odds and recent reports received through media and eye witnesses, ESKOM announced that its new coal-fired power plants Medupi and Kusile are anticipated to go “live” and onto the grid as early as 2014! While Medupi is expected to deliver its first electricity by June 2014, Kusile is supposed to go online already in December 2014. Medupi has been delayed for at least six months due to labour unrest and “underperformance” by contractors. ESKOM, which provides 95% of the power to the South African economy, has been walking a tightrope for five years as it tries to bring long-overdue power plants online after the grid came close to collapse in 2008. The power crisis forced factories, mines and smelters to shut down for days, costing the economy billions of dollars in lost output.

h3. Renewable Energies

Parallel to ESKOM’s ancient and outdated coal-fire plants, which will heavily add to South Africa’s carbon footprint in an unrivalled arrogant and unprecedented ignorance towards all environmental protocols signed during the last years the renewable energy sector had to endure yet another set-back as the Department of Energy (DoE), since recently under the control of former Transportation Minister Ben Martins, had to postpone the announcement of the successful bidders in the third round of the Renewable Energy Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). The DoE received 93 Bid Responses on the Third Bid Submission Date and sent on 29 October letters of appointment as Preferred Bidders to 17 Bidders who submitted Bid Responses on the Third Bid Submission Date. The number of appointments, and the total MW of Contracted Capacity awarded to date, is as follows:

* *Onshore Wind* – 7 Preferred Bidders totalling 787 MW
* *Solar Photovolatic* – 6 Preferred Bidders totalling 450 MW
* *Biomass* – 1 Preferred Bidder of 16.5 MW
* *Landfill Gas* – 1 Preferred Bidder of 18 MW
* *Concentrated Solar* – 2 Preferred Bidders totalling 200 MW

Although neither the Minister nor the Director-General of the DoE were available to address the media and interested parties about the outcome to date of the procurement in respect of the Third Bid Submission Phase. The Department has also sent letters of non-appointment as Preferred Bidders to 18 Bidders. Those letters were sent to Bidders whose Bid Responses were Non-Compliant with the requirements of Part B (Qualification Criteria) of the RFP. The balance can only be assumed has not been informed or their applications are still pending. It seems the Department has taken note of the fact that a large number of very competitive Bid Responses were submitted for the Third Bid Submission Date in the Onshore Wind and Solar Photovoltaic Technologies, and the Department is considering the appointment of additional Preferred Bidders for those Technologies from the remaining Compliant Bidders. As such, the Preferred Bidders that have been appointed in those Technologies may not be the only Preferred Bidders that are appointed in those Technologies for the Third Bid Submission Date, and one can only further assume that a final decision on this has not been taken at this time. The Department will make a further announcement regarding its decision in this regard in due course, and is intending to do so by not later than 20 November 2013.

h3. Candle Lights?

Well, cloak and dagger games are not new to the DoE and thus we will wait patiently to learn of the further fates in the Renewable Energy Sector of South Africa, hopefully not by candle light – romantic as it is 😉

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