Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy reports that the department’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) section is currently processing applications for renewable-energy projects with a combined capacity of 9 789 MW.
Delivering her Budget Vote on May 19, the Minister said that there were application for 2 899 MW of solar photovoltaic capacity and a further 6 890 MW of wind capacity and added that many of the applications were coupled with battery energy storage systems and associated transmission and distribution infrastructure.
“We are working hard to cut the red tape and get these projects finalised and, in this regard, we have reduced our decision-making timeframes from 107 days to 57 days.”
Creecy reiterated the view that the country’s current lack of grid capacity was a major constraint in advancing the energy transition and said that adding additional transmission infrastructure had been set as a “national priority to solve” both for the transition and for tackling loadshedding in the short term.
“We have 15 EIA applications relating to transmission and distribution infrastructure which we are also prioritising for decision-making,” she revealed.
Commenting on the review under way regarding South Africa’s coal plant decommissioning schedule, Creecy said government did not view any possible delay as presenting a risk to meeting the country’s overall decarbonisation objectives.
“Government is clear that we must battle both loadshedding and climate change. It is not a one or the other decision.”
She said modelling was under way to provide guidance on how South Africa could “balance our decommissioning schedule so we can achieve energy security within the context of our climate change commitments and air quality improvement”.