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Power grid gets wind in its sails

17 April 2015 - 02:08 By Bianca Capazorio

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has announced 13 new projects by independent power producers that will add 1121 megawatts of electricity to the national grid. Fast-tracking the independent power producer programme, which will see the private sector build renewable energy projects, is one of five areas targeted by the Eskom war room, set up to address the power crisis.Yesterday, Joemat-Pettersson said a total of R23-billion would be invested in the 13 new projects.Construction of the first is, however, expected to begin only late in 2016.The 13 preferred bidders were chosen from 77 proposals received in August. The projects include bio-mass, on-shore wind, solar and hydro power.Though Joemat-Pettersson was quick to point out that Eskom and its woes did not fall under her department, the need to fast-track independent power-producing agreements, the gas-to-power programme and the co-generation agreements was apparent.She said there was "an aggressive attempt to fast-track power purchase agreements".The department is also issuing an expedited request for more proposals for an additional 1800MW of power, allowing all unsuccessful bidders from previous rounds to resubmit proposals.A preferred bidder for a coal-based independent power producer, to generate 2500MW of power, would be announced by year end, Joemat-Pettersson said.The wind-power industry lauded the announcements.At 676MW, wind projects make up the bulk of the fourth-round preferred bids."Prices for wind power in round four are understood to have averaged about 62c/kWh, which is about 40% less than the projected cost of coal power from the Eskom Medupi power plant," the South African Wind Energy Association said...

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