South African Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters says that the country’s renewable energy programme will help to put the country on to a low carbon trajectory.

Peters has announced the preferred bidders in the first round of South Africa’s renewable energy independent power producer (IPP) bidding programme, which is designed to boost renewable energy capacity and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Companies named as preferred bidders include Abengoa Solar, Mainstream Renewable Power and SolarReserve. A total of 1415 MW of wind, solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) projects have been awarded.

“This represents a historic milestone in our country, and it is a demonstration of our departure from being associated with high greenhouse gas emissions, high water usage, health externalities and other environmental degradation,” said Peters. “As you can appreciate, a lot more still needs to be done to put our country on a low carbon trajectory in a way that balances our country’s own imperatives against our responsibilities as world governments.”

South Africa’s goal is to produce up to 17 800 MW of renewable energy by 2030.

Recommended preferred bidders have been named for 18 solar PV projects with a capacity of 631 MW, and eight wind power project totalling 634 MW. Abengoa Solar has been named as the preferred bidder for the only two CSP projects.

All of the projects will be supported by 20-year power purchase agreements with Eskom, South Africa’s national utility, which is currently implementing a major capital investment programme to increase the country’s installed capacity.

Among the solar PV projects announced in early December are two 75 MW plants tendered by a consortium of SolarReserve, Kensani Group and Intikon Energy. A consortium led by Mainstream Renewable Power has been awarded the De Aar 50 MW solar PV farm and the Droogfontein 50 MW solar PV project.

The Mainstream-led consortium, which also includes Globeleq, Thebe Investment Corporation and local engineering firms Enzani Technologies and Usizo Engineering, have also been named preferred bidders for the 138 MW Jeffries bay wind farm.

“I congratulate Minister Peters for putting in place a process which is truly world-class and for the superb manner in which it has been executed,” said Mainstream Renewable Power CEO Eddie O’Connor. “The government has shown tremendous vision and foresight in creating this new and sustainable industry for South Africa, firmly placing it on the world map for renewable energy generation.”

Abengoa’s two project awards are the 50 MW Khi Solar One and the KaXu Solar One plants. The Spanish engineering firm said in a statement that development of the two projects “presents an excellent opportunity [for South Africa] to become a leader in CSP solar energy generation”.

Khi Solar One will be a solar power tower design and KaXu Solar One a parabolic trough design. Together they represent an investment of around €1 billion, says Abengoa.