NEW SURVEY SA has a 66GW renewable energy pipeline
Energy CorrespondentSA already has a pipeline of 66GW of renewable energy projects under development, a new study has shown.
The Renewable Energy Grid Survey launched on Tuesday included responses from 209 companies that are developing, or intend to build, renewable power plants in SA.
The 66GW includes wind and solar power, as well as battery storage. The largest share is from wind, with 21GW of wind and 7.5GW of wind combined with battery storage in the pipeline. Solar power plants and solar combined with battery storage accounted for about half of the 66GW. Many projects were expected to enter development only from 2026 to 2028, but about 23GW of projects could enter development within the next two years.
The survey is a collaboration between Eskom, the SA Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) and the SA Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA), and is intended to support enhanced grid planning, as well as strengthening and expanding this critical infrastructure in SA.
"This survey offered a valuable opportunity for the renewable energy industry to shape and influence grid planning, really considering the balance between grid expansion and grid optimisation.
"The results clearly indicated a good penetration of future wind power development across the wind map," said Niveshen Govender, CEO of SAWEA.
The survey also showed that more independent power producers are shifting their focus to areas where there was more existing grid capacity, such as in Mpumalanga.
Looking at future wind projects, short-term (up to 2026) development is located predominantly in the Cape provinces and parts of the Free State where there is limited available grid capacity. But this pattern shifts when looking at the medium term (2027-29), when new wind power generation projects seem to dominate across KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
As the centrepiece of its electricity planning recommendations from SA released last week the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) said the country needs to add between 50GW and 60GW of renewables by 2030. This would bring the share of renewables in SA’s energy mix to about 40%. The PCC says one of the greatest constraints to an accelerated rollout of renewables is the present limitations to grid access in some parts of the country.
To get to the target of 50GW-60GW of renewables SA must implement Eskom’s transmission development plan, according to which about R130bn has to be spent on building 100 new substations and 8,500km of transmission lines by 2030.
A recent Generation Connection Capacity Assessment by Eskom showed there was zero grid connection capacity in the Northern Cape, but 1,600MW-1,800MW capacity each in the Western and Eastern Cape and a separate area bordering all three Cape provinces, which Eskom refers to as the "hydra cluster".
The report indicated there was about 32GW of capacity to add new generation projects to the transmission grid in the country — mostly in Gauteng, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
Picture: 123RF/VACLAW VOLRAB