Cooling down on the coal: Renewable energy projects for South Africa

By Peroshni Govender

JOHANNESBURG, April 14 (Reuters) – South Africa has named preferred bidders for the fourth round of a series of renewable energy projects, that will add about 1,000 megawatts (MW) of power to its ailing grid, industry insiders said on Tuesday. 9. Kathu Construction Solar panels

Africa’s most advanced economy is committed to introducing green energy into its power mix, 95 percent of which is coal at the moment, to redress its chronic electricity shortages.

A failure to build any major power stations since the end of apartheid in 1994 has forced Eskom to resort to almost daily power cuts to protect its over stretched grid from total collapse.

Referred to as “Windows 4”, the renewable energy bidding rounds have invited bids for a range of renewable projects such as wind, photovoltaic, biomass and small scale hydro-electric.

The Department of Energy could not confirm if bidders were announced but Reuters has been able to identify some recipients.

“We have been awarded the 140 MW Roggerveld wind farm and the 4.7 MW Kruisvallei hydro farm,” said Gabriele Maraschin, development manager at unlisted Italian firm Building Energy.

“This means that you are awarded a power purchase agreement with Eskom, you have to reach financial close and then you can start construction.”

Italy’s Enel Green Power said it had won three contracts to generate wind power that will produce 425 MW of electricity along South Africa’s eastern coastline and northern region.

Paper maker Sappi said it was selected to set up a 25 MW biomass project in South Africa’s interior.

Other bidders included Johannesburg-based BioTherm.

Germany’s state-controlled KfW development bank said last week it had granted Eskom a 4 billion rand ($332.97 million) loan to help modernise its power grid and connect new renewable energy projects to the system. ($1 = 12.0130 rand) (Editing by Ed Stoddard and William Hardy)

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