A capacity of 200 MW has been allocated for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) in Window 3 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers (RE-IPP) program

A capacity of 200 MW has been allocated for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) in Window 3 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers (RE-IPP) program, according to a statement made by the Department of Energy (DoE), South Africa’s energy policy maker.

This follows a great deal of debate in the South African CSP renewable energy industry as to whether there would be a CSP allocation at all in Window 3, and if so what the MW allocation would be.

Up until now the DoE had only issued a very general statement regarding CSP capacity going forward. DoE spokesperson, Thandiwe Maimane, said earlier this month that while the third round would most probably be dominated by PV and wind energy, the DoE is “mindful of the need to allocate additional megawatts for CSP in the third window”.

In Window 1 and 2 a total of 200 MW was allocated to CSP, so the additional 200 MW brings the CSP allocation in the first determination to 400 MW. The request for proposals (RFP) for the third Window have been released and the third bid window submission deadline is 19 August with preferred bidders to be announced by 29 October. The total renewable energy allocation for Window 3 will draw from the 1165 MW remaining out of the 3725 MW of renewable capacity in the initial determination.

Minister of Energy, Dipuo Peters, has also released a further determination confirming that the REIPPP is to be extended into a rolling procurement programme, with an additional 3200 MW allocation by 2020. CSP industry players advocate that a greater allocation be made to CSP, in particular due to its storage which enables it to overcome the challenge of intermittency that some other renewable energies are confronted with.

It is widely known that CSP is ideal for sustainable peak, mid merit (shoulder) and base load solar thermal electricity. A further motivating factor for deploying an increased number of megawatts for CSP is the fact that economies of scale, localization and further research and development will lead to cost reductions. Reports indicate that SolarReserve, a global solar power developer head-quartered in California, will be bidding for CSP allocation in South Africa in Window 3.

The company, which holds the worldwide license to its molten salt solar power tower technology, is said to be developing a 100 MW molten salt CSP tower facility to be bid in August. The project is to be located in the Northern Cape. SolarReserve already has two photovoltaic (PV) solar developments there. These were awarded to the SolarReserve consortium in the first two rounds of the RE-IPP.