Unknowns linger as South Africa hopes for renewables restart

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Last month, a small ray of hope appeared for the long-awaited restart of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme (REIPPPP).

For more than two years, rounds 3.5 and 4 of the programme have been prevented from reaching financial close by state-owned utility provider Eskom’s refusal to sign power purchase agreements (PPAs).

REIPPPP, which is based on competitive tenders, was initially showcased as an unmitigated success and held up as an international example of how to build a competitively priced renewables market. But in recent years the industry has been in limbo while Eskom and the government’s Department of Energy (DoE) wrangle over costs.

Rounds 1 to 3 progressed relatively smoothly over the three years after the programme was launched in 2011. These rounds have seen close to 3GW of solar and wind energy connected to the grid, created tens of thousands of jobs, and boosted the economy through local and foreign investment.

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