Renewable energy development seems to be gaining pace once again in South Africa as the government there recently changed certain rules to expedite installation of projects in the eight Renewable Energy Development Zones of the country.
The Ministry of Environmental Affairs in South Africa recently announced changes to the procedures that renewable energy project developers must follow to gain approvals. The Ministry stated that large-scale solar and wind energy project developers will now have to follow a basic assessment procedure instead of all the procedures listed in the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, 2014.
The Ministry would allow project developers to provide basic assessment of the impact of project development as it has already completed scoping level pre-assessment of the project sites in the eight Renewable Energy Development Zones (REDZs).
By doing away with the requirement of detailed environmental assessment the Ministry will reduce the timeframe for decision making on each project from a maximum of 300 days to just 57 days.
The eight REDZs were notified by the South African government in February 2016 with an aim to facilitate better utilisation of renewable energy resources and integration of large-scale renewable energy projects into the existing power transmission network.
The move by the Ministry of Environmental Affairs would serve as a great incentive for project developers looking to be part of the forthcoming auctions under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP).
Through this initiative the government has also thrown long-term support behind development of renewable energy market in the country. Last year, Eskom, the South African utility responsible to procure electricity from all renewable energy projects, had expressed inability to service power purchase agreements signed with several projects allocated under REIPPPP.