DMRE and IPPO to Host Virtual Conferences and Workshop on Energy Initiatives

Busy Week for DMRE: Hosting IPP Bidders Conferences and IRP Workshop

by Ikeoluwa Juliana Ogungbangbe

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) in South Africa, along with the Independent Power Producer Office (IPPO), is set for a hectic week ahead, with a series of virtual bidders conferences scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday. Additionally, the department will host a public workshop regarding the draft 2023 edition of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2023).

The bidders conferences come on the heels of the release of three new requests for proposals (RFPs) on December 14. These RFPs are aimed at public procurement of 7,615 MW of new generation capacity, encompassing wind, solar photovoltaic (PV), gas-to-power, and battery energy storage technologies.

Under Bid Window Seven (BW 7) of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, the DMRE is seeking to procure 5,000 MW of new renewable energy, comprising 3,200 MW of onshore wind and 1,800 MW of solar PV.

BW 7 follows the partial failure of BW 6, where only solar preferred bidders, with a combined capacity of 1,000 MW, were selected due to grid capacity constraints.

Grid constraints will continue to be a crucial factor in BW 7, potentially requiring bidders to propose projects in areas with less robust resources but available connection capacity.

It remains unclear whether grid-releasing curtailment will be part of the round, as Eskom indicated in December that a curtailment framework was presented to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa for approval.

Bidders are expected to receive additional information on grid constraints during a virtual bidders conference scheduled for January 18.

On the same day, a virtual bidders conference is also planned for the second bid window of the Battery Energy Storage IPP Procurement Programme (BESIPPPP BW 2). In November, four utility-scale battery energy storage projects were named preferred bids.

Government’s inaugural 2,000 MW Gas Programme (GASIPPPP BW 1) will also have a virtual conference on January 18. GASIPPPP BW 1 has been launched on a site-agnostic basis, with a separate procurement process to be held for 1,000 MW of capacity near the Port of Ngqura, Eastern Cape.

The draft IRP 2023, which includes a larger gas allocation than the current IRP 2019, has been released for public comment by the DMRE. The plan has sparked discussions and criticism for reducing the renewables allocation.

The DMRE has set two dates for public workshops and is not providing oral hearings, with the first workshop scheduled for January 18.

The bidders conferences will facilitate engagement between stakeholders, the DMRE, and IPPO on the RFPs, which are accessible to prospective bidders upon payment of a non-refundable fee of R25,000 per project submission.

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