The delay comes after financial close for the 17 third bid window preferred projects was shifted out, owing primarily to grid connection problems.
Seventeen round-three preferred bidders were named on October 29, 2013, after 93 bid responses were received for an allocation of less than 1 500 MW.
The projects were initially scheduled to close on July 30, but the Department of Energy (DoE) subsequently indicated that it would pursue a staggered financial-close protocol, which would possibly begin this year, but continue into 2015. Engineering News Online has learned that the bidders have been requested to extend the validity of their bids to March.
The staggered closure framework was a departure from the previous two bidding rounds, when all power purchase agreements, direct agreements, implementation agreements and connection agreements were concluded on a single day by all bidders.
A total of 47 renewables projects were currently either producing electricity for sale into the Eskom grid, or remained under construction across the country. To date, the REIPPPP, held up internationally as a successful process, had stimulated about R120-billion in private investment into South Africa’s supply-stressed electricity sector.
However, it emerged earlier in the year that Eskom had serious grid constraints, which had become a major impediment to the connection of some of the round-three projects. The so-called “low handing fruit” had been absorbed by the initial projects and it had become both difficult and expensive to connect a number of the proposed projects.