JOHANNESBURG – The renewable energy industry has welcomed Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter’s support of an increased distributed generation license exemption cap.
Last week in an ENSafrica webinar, de Ruyter backed reforms to allow anyone to build their own generation facilities of up to 50 megawatts (MW) without needing a licence.
The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) on Monday said that distributed generation can add capacity to the grid, reduce load-shedding, and create jobs but there must be policy and regulatory action.
SAPVIA chief operations officer Nivesh Govender said they had long been engaged in advocating for the systematic easing of licensing thresholds.
“We therefore welcome the support of the state-owned utility for lifting licensing thresholds from 1MW to 50MW in order to accelerate distributed generation by large customers,” Governder said.
“As a key sector player, Eskom’s support in this effort should encourage more haste in regulatory changes from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa).”
Increased deployment of embedded generation capacity will release the pressure on Eskom’s already constrained supply which is plagued by frequent power cuts.
South Africa’s energy plan, the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2019), removes the need for ministerial approval for distributed generation for own use above 1MW before Nersa can process a generation license application.
The IRP sets out a path to pursue a diversified energy mix that reduces reliance on a single or a few primary energy sources by 2030.
Business Leadership SA (BSA) also said Eskom’s support for energy reforms was a move that would rapidly lead to large investments by companies in their own energy infrastructure.
BSA chief executive Busi Mavuso said that, along with clarity on renewable energy timetables, could spur a green economy industrialisation wave.
“Clarity on the renewable energy programme means backing the successful formula that has delivered four rounds so far, one that everyone from banks to construction firms understand well,” Mavuso said.
“Introducing uncertainty, particularly around the extent of local input required, would delay energy security, increase costs of bids and ultimately slow down the economic recovery and green industrialisation process.”
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