Energy One-Stop-Shop: Onboarding new generation capacity

By: Tshepo Nkosi

Bringing new generation capacity onto the national grid as quickly as possible is paramount to lessen the impact of load shedding and help secure our nation’s energy future. 

In understating the urgency, government has created an Energy One-Stop-Shop to fast track bringing on board new power-generating companies. The new one-stop-shop is under the auspices of Invest SA.

It will assist power-generating companies overcome red tape by helping them navigate the different processes that apply in law. The National Energy Crisis Committee, tasked to oversee the implementation of the Energy Action Plan, identified cutting of red tape and accelerating regulatory processes as an urgent intervention.

Government is confident that this single entry point for energy investors and businesses will fast track the process to obtain all necessary government approvals and decrease the turnaround time of applications for energy generation projects.

Shortening approvals will have a ripple effect on breaking ground for new energy projects and bringing new generation capacity on stream. Going forward this will significantly assist the national grid as we navigate these strained energy times.

The one-stop-shop is established in line with the Energy Action Plan that commits government to wide-ranging actions to enable private investment in electricity generation and accelerating the procurement of new generation capacity from renewable sources.

We have seen that following the removal of licencing requirements for generation projects, there has been an increase in private investment in energy generation projects. More than 100 private sector projects are in the pipeline and fast tracking their approvals will mean that we can expect about 10 000MW in additional generation capacity over the next few years. 

As part of efforts to speed up the process, government has reduced the timeframe for environmental authorisations from more than 100 days to 57 days. The registration process for energy projects has been reduced from four months to three weeks. Reforms have also ensured that grid connection approvals are provided within six months of application by independent power producers.

The launch of the one-stop-shop had come as our country prepared for an influx of applications with the Department of Energy opening two new Bid Windows as part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme to attract private investment into energy generation.

Bid Window 7 was opened in the second quarter of 2023, and Bid Window 8 in the fourth quarter. These two windows will procure 5 000 megawatts (MW) as part of efforts to increase energy generation through renewable projects such as solar, wind, biomass and hydro generation.

Government also requested proposals for large-scale battery storage systems as part of efforts to manage demand during peak periods and support grid stability. Through these requests, 1 230MW battery storage will be procured.

In diversifying our energy generation we also sought request for proposals for the procurement of gas-to-power of 3 000MW as well as a bid for proposals for the procurement of 2 500MW of nuclear energy.

Last year the Minister of Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa met with Mozambican Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy, Carlos Zacarias, to secure additional power from Mozambique. In the immediate term, Mozambique can provide 80MW and a further 1000MW over the medium term. 

We are confident that all our efforts together with the launch of the Energy One-Stop-Shop will go a long way to strengthen our energy generation capacity. In future our energy landscape will look significantly different from the one we have today. 

Tshepo Nkosi is the Managing Editor for Vuk’uzenzele and Public Sector Manager publications.