Cape Town - Eskom will now decide the fate of renewable energy projects in the country, according to Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Minister Barbara Creecy, who recently published a notice on the amendment of certain requirements for an application for environmental authorisation for a renewable energy facility.
Creecy said the amendment is necessary to ensure that the full potential of the investment in electricity infrastructure can be realised.
“The amendment requires that a proponent request and obtain a consent letter from Eskom or its successor, which confirms that the proposed layout of the facility will not unnecessarily obstruct access to the transmission or distribution infrastructure,” said Creecy.
The amendment states that renewable energy projects must submit a letter of permission as part of their application for environmental authorisation for a proposed project if it is located within a radius of 2km of a main electricity transmission substation or within 1km of a main electricity distribution substation.
It further stated that the competent authority may allow the consent letter to be submitted at any time before a decision is made if the applicant or proponent can demonstrate that Eskom, or its successor, has not responded within 45 days of the submission of the request by the applicant or proponent and that the applicant or proponent has followed up with Eskom, or its successor, following such 45 days.
Francesca de Gasparis, executive director at South African Faith Communities’ Environmental Institute, said it sounded like a reasonable request to ensure no conflicts in location, and the time limit of 45 days to respond seemed like not too much of a delay.
“However, without knowing the full context of the renewable energy application process, it’s difficult to know if this extra hurdle will result in an unreasonable burden on the applicant, so that needs to be clearer.
“Furthermore, the publishing of notices in December by the government should not be allowed, as it puts unfair pressure on the government to make an adequate response during a time when many families travel together and most businesses are closed,” De Gasparis said.