Of the projects selected, 632 megawatts were for solar energy photovoltaic projects; 150 megawatts, for concentrated solar power; and 634 megawatts, for wind power developments.

South African renewable energy industry is ready to take off. The South African Department of Energy announced the winning bids from the first round of tenders for renewable energy projects in the margins of COP 17 this morning. 630 MW of wind energy projects and a similar quantity of solar energy photovoltaic plus 150 MW of concentrating solar thermal power projects will start the ball rolling. It is envisaged that a further 2200 MW of renewable energy projects will be announced over the coming two years.

South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan, adopted in 2010, calls for 8400 MW of wind power over the course of the next 20 years, but assuming that the wind energy and solar power sectors start to take off as expected, those numbers could rise substantially.

The photovoltaic rojects named, which range in size from 5 MW to 75 MW, included: the SlimSun Swartland solar park (5 MW), the RustMo1 solar farm (6.76 MW), Mulilo Renewable Energy Solar PV De Aar (9.65 MW), Konkoonsies Solar (9.65 MW), Aries Solar (9.65 MW), the Greefspan PV power plant (10 MW), the Herbert PV power plant (19.9 MW), the Mulilo Renewable Energy solar PV Prieska (19.93 MW), the Soutpan solar park (28 MW), the Witkop solar park (30 MW), the Touwsrivier project (36 MW), De Aar Solar PV (48.25 MW), the South Africa Mainstream Renewable Power Droogfontein project (48.25 MW), the Letsatsi Power Company (64 MW), the Lesedi Power Company (64 MW), the Kalkbult project (72.5 MW), the Kathu solar energy facility (75 MW) and Solar Capital De Aar (75 MW).

The combined capacity of the solar PV projects that made it through to the preferred-bidder stage was 631.53 MW.

The two concentrating solar thermal power projects were named as Khi Solar One (50 MW) and KaXu Solar One (100 MW).

The wind farm projects listed, which collectively represented 633.99 MW of capacity, included: the Dassiesklip wind energy facility (26.19 MW), the MetroWind Van Stadens wind farm (26.19 MW), the Hopefield wind farm (65.40 MW), Noblesfontein (72.75 MW), the Red Cap Kouga wind farm – Oyster Bay (77.6 MW), the Dorper wind farm (97 MW), the Jeffreys Bay project (133.86 MW) and the Cookhouse wind farm (135 MW).

A further two windows were planned for 2012, and two more for 2013, as part of a programme to procure 3 725 MW of renewables capacity from IPPs before 2016. The next bid window would close in the first quarter of 2012, with more than 2 309 MW, or more than 60% of the capacity, yet to be allocated.

The Department of Energy (DoE) was currently aiming to procure 1 850 MW of onshore wind energy, 1 450 MW of solar PV, 200 MW of concentrating solar thermal power, 75 MW of small hydro, 25 MW of landfill gas and 12.5 MW apiece of biomass and biogas capacity. These allocations might change should there be undersubscription from some technologies and an oversubscription for others.

Prices had also been capped for each technology. Wind turbines projects would need to be priced at below 115c/kWh, solar PV and concentrated solar power at below 285c/kWh, while a cap of 107c/kWh had been set for biomass, 80c/kWh for biogas, 60c/kWh for landfill gas and 103c/kWh for mini hydro.