It is envisaged that these two towns, together with areas surrounding Beaufort West, will be designated as Renewable Energy Development Zones (REDZs) by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), along with eight already selected during an earlier Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA), known as phase one. The phase-one zones were Gazetted for designation in 2018, and DEFF will now consider designating the three new zones selected in phase two.
Environmental approvals for projects developed in the REDZs are typically fast-tracked by the DEFF, owing to the fact that the areas have already been scoped for environmental risks. Such scoping for the mining-linked zones has been concluded by the department, with support from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). These expedited environmental processes, or SEAs, are applicable only within designated REDZs.
The mining areas identified for designation as REDZs during the phase-two SEA were chosen and prioritised by the CSIR in consultation with solar and wind developers. It emerged that wind developers would favour a REDZ in the Beaufort West area, while the Emalahleni and Klerksdorp areas emerged as preferred locations from a solar photovoltaic (PV) perspective
Kabi Solar director Mike Levington, who served on the steering committee who oversaw the REDZs’ selection, tells Engineering News Online that the aim is to create a detailed framework that maximises the employment and industrialisation spin-offs from onshore wind and solar PV, the deployment of which is expected to rise strongly, owing to the fact that the two technologies have emerged as the cheapest new-build option.
The plan will also be aligned with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition’s initiative to create industrial development master plans for various sectors under its ‘re-imagined industrial strategy’, as well as the Public Private Growth Initiative (PPGI), set up with the aim of supporting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s drive to galvanise $100-billion-worth of investment between 2018 and 2022.