The emergency power program has suffered from delays. Karpowership, the supplier of ship-mounted gas-fired plants that won about 60% of the bid, saw its plans fail due to lawsuits and environmental challenges. The skyrocketing construction costs worldwide also complicated bid winners’ attempts to make financial arrangements.
Network access is not available in South Africa. The amount of transmission capacity is insufficient, and in the wrong part of the country, for the array of renewable energy projects being built in a race to mitigate the country’s worst blackouts. In December, a government award of 3,200 megawatts of wind power failed because no grid connection was available.
The amount of electricity that can be affected this month is equivalent to Cape Town’s peak demand in winter.
The company said Eskom is in talks with the Bureau of Independent Energy Producers, which conducted the tender, to decide on extending access.
The Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy did not respond to requests for comment. The Southern African Development Bank referred questions to the IPPO, which forwarded inquiries to management. The department and the DBSA are overseeing the Independent Product Authority.
If they lose access to the grid, companies will need to reapply, which could further delay a process that should have seen electricity supplied by August last year. It’s not clear if the new rules on access, which will increase the amount of money developers must spend before they know if they can access the network, will be implemented.
The IPO has extended the deadline for the financial closing of projects to December 31 from the end of June, said two people familiar with the decision, who declined to be identified because the decision is not public.
In addition to Karpowership and Acwa, companies with stakes in winning bidding consortia include TotalEnergies SE and Electricite de France SA.