South Africa

South Africa

SAWEA wary of development zones

SOUTH AFRICA: A renewables zoning map, approved by the South African cabinet "will not streamline the permitting process", according to the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA).

The proposed development zones for renewable energy in South Africa
The proposed development zones for renewable energy in South Africa

The proposals are at the final stage of public consultation before being passed into law.

A SAWEA spokesman told Windpower Monthly: "We are concerned it will create significant obstacles for the wind energy industry and thus fail in its key objectives."

The geographical map — rubberstamped by the cabinet last month following environmental approval — defines eight renewable energy development zones (REDZ) and five power corridors (PCs) for new transmission lines (see map, click to enlarge).

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) was carried out and approved for all zones and corridors, "to ensure that when required, environmental authorisations are not a cause for delay", according to a government statement.

The government claims the PC hubs are vital for South Africa's burgeoning wind and solar sectors, helping to create "deep grid expansion."

Indeed, grid logjams are now a pressing issue, with nearly 7GW of renewables generation procured since the government's first bidding round in 2013. Just under 3.35GW of that is from wind, of which 1.05GW is already online. That all adds to the strain on an the grid.

But while SAWEA also craves solutions to gridlock, its main concern is "the lack of sufficient protection regarding development rights outside proposed REDZ".

The SEA, "should only be used to identify high-level constraints for future wind development and not to classify REDZ nor earmark preferential areas for development," it said.

SAWEA also criticised the REDZ 6km buffer zone between one wind cluster and another, as this "could stop projects being developed in multiple phases adjacent to each other".

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