Overview of DEA National wind and solar PV SEA’s:
As part of the rollout of renewable energy in the country, the Department of Energy (DoE) has entered into a bidding process for the procurement of 3725 MW of renewable energy from independent power producers by 2016. In order to submit a bid, a proponent is required to have obtained an Environmental Authorization (EA) in terms of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations as well as several other authorizations or consents. To date the National Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has received in excess of 600 renewable energy EIA applications. Through the review process certain inefficiencies in the current authorization system have been identified.
In order to address these inefficiencies the DEA, in discussion with DoE, has been mandated by MinMec to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). The DEA has subsequently appointed CSIR to manage wind and solar PV SEA processes. The SEAs will be undertaken in order to identify geographical areas most suitable for the rollout of wind and solar PV energy projects and the supporting electricity grid network. The process will also provide a platform for coordination between the various Government Departments who have a mandate in terms of issuing environmental authorizations or consents to allow for a more streamlined authorization process. It is intended that through the SEA process, all participating Departments will be able to pre-assess the requirements for which they have a mandate and be in a position to either issue general authorizations, exemptions, or delist energy applications based on adherence to certain conditions or guidelines.
The SEA will give consideration to a number of aspects including the resource potential as well as environmental and social sensitivities of the areas identified. Site specific guidelines, conditions and Environmental Management Impact Reports will also be developed through the process. (Download full overview here)
[restrictedarea]SAPVIA participated in a workshop hosted by the DEA and CSIR on the 24th of January where the rationale for the proposed SEA strategy was explained and where the industry bodies had an opportunity to provide feedback. (The workshop presentation can be downloaded here and the minutes from the meeting can be downloaded here)
Many issues were raised from industry side and SAPVIA submitted a list of concerns to the CSIR post the workshop. (View list of IPP concerns here)
On the 20th of February 2013 SAPVIA participated in a focus group meeting with the CSIR and DEA. (Download minutes of meeting here)
The next step in the process is that the preliminary results and plan of the study will be discussed on the 27th of March at the first Expert Reference Group meeting in Pretoria at which SAPVIA will have representation. In the interim, the CSIR has selected a team of specialists for the review and evaluation of the environmental and social attributes for the national solar PV SEA. The selection of specialists was based on experience and understanding of best practices for environmental assessment for renewable energy projects at national and international levels.
Should you have any comments on the proposed SEA, please feel free to post a comment on the website in the space below, or send your comment to natalie@sapvia.org.za.[/restrictedarea]