Shortened Environment Impact Assessment Time Frame For Solar and Wind Projects in South Africa

Eight Renewable Energy Development Zones (REDZ) and five Power Corridors plus the process to be followed for Environmental Authorisation within these areas were formally gazetted by cabinet on 17th February 2018.

The outcome of the gazetting process will mean that wind and solar PV projects within the eight Renewable Development Zones and electricity grid expansion within the five Power Corridors will be subjected to a Basic Assessment and not a full EIA process. This reduces the review and decision making time and the level of assessment required for each project based on the fact that scoping level pre-assessment was already undertaken in those areas. As such, the time taken for an application for Environmental Authorisation has been reduced from 300 days to 147 days for wind and solar projects in these areas.

The zone and corridor mapping can be downloaded from the Department of Environmental Affairs website.

The move by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa forms part of the 18 Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) which were identified in the Infrastructure Development Plan which is aimed at promoting infrastructure development to stimulate economic growth and job creation.

South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Program has been on hold for the past two years under the former president Jacob Zuma. More recently, under instruction from the countries new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, Eskom has been given the green light to sign bankable power purchase agreements with independent power producers.

The move by the Department of Environmental Affairs plus the latest developments at Eskom is strong signs that the countries Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Program is getting back on track ……at long last.

 Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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