S.Africa to open bidding round for green energy contracts in November

Electricity pylons are seen near cooling towers of a South African petrochemical company in Secunda, north of Johannesburg, South Africa, May 20, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s next round of bids for renewable energy agreements with independent power producers will be begin in November and could unlock investment worth up to 50 billion rand ($3.95 billion), the energy minister said on Friday.

Renewable energy contracts worth 56 billion rand were signed in April, the first major investment deal under President Cyril Ramaphosa who has promised to kick-start economic growth since replacing his scandal-plagued predecessor Jacob Zuma this year.

So far, 27 mostly solar and wind projects – that were stalled under Zuma who favoured plans to build new nuclear plants – have been signed, adding 2,305 MW to the grid.

Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said in prepared remarks that liquefied natural was a “very high priority” and that a gas strategy would be released in July or August of this year.

Tanzania and Mozambique have huge gas reserves that South Africa is keen to tap as it seeks to reduce reliance on coal, which accounts for over 85 percent of the power generated in Africa’s most industrialised economy.

Projects from the new bidding round will bring another 1,800 MW of power to the grid.

($1 = 12.6458 rand)

(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Edmund Blair)