South Africa Gets Offers to Build 20,000MW of Capacity

South Africa, the continent’s largest carbon emitter, received 384 applications from companies seeking to build a combined 20,000 megawatts of renewable power projects as part of a plan to curb reliance on coal-fired energy.

The government will issue a procurement document with the projects approved in the first quarter, Ompi Aphane, deputy director-general for electricity, nuclear and clean energy at the Department of Energy, told reporters in Pretoria today.

South Africa is struggling with a power shortage resulting from a government decision to halt expansion plans by state-run utility Eskom Holdings Ltd. for four years to try to encourage private companies to build electricity plants. The nation is looking to alternatives to coal-fired power stations after a spate of blackouts closed mines in the country in early 2008.

Eskom, which generates about 45 percent of the electricity used in Africa, currently produces about 43,000 megawatts.

A third of the applications were for wind power projects, making up 70 percent of the proposed capacity, and about a third for solar, with 15 percent of the output, Aphane said. “Should Eskom not be able to make payments, we would do that.”

Eskom was granted a $3.75 billion World Bank loan in April for its expansion plans on condition the company introduces renewable energy projects.

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