Massive boost for new solar projects in South Africa

 ·14 Apr 2023

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has gazetted a consultation document, expressing its intent to exempt the development of new and the expansion of existing solar photovoltaic facilities in South Africa from certain environmental requirements.

The measure was raised along with a host of other solutions to South Africa’s ongoing power crisis over the last year, with the exemptions specifically mentioned in July last year.

According to DFFE minister Babarba Creecy, the intention is to exclude qualifying projects from certain environmental authorisations, but only in some geographical regions and for specified activities.

This will be based on a “solar exclusion norm”, which will provide the rules and restrictions for such projects.

“The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment developed a screening tool to identify environmental sensitivities of a specific geographical location or site related to various identified environmental themes,” it said.

These environmental themes are rated on a scale from “low” to “very high”. Only geographical locations rated “low” or “medium” are applicable to the norm and exemptions.

The specific activities relate to the development or expansion of a facility for the generation of electricity from solar photovoltaic technology, as well as the development or expansion of battery storage facilities that are associated with or integral to the operation of these facilities.

Companies or entities looking to develop or expand solar facilities will be required to apply for the exemptions under this norm, and will be subject to various verifications, and will still have to register with the necessary bodies to ensure compliance with other regulations.

Conditions and documents for registration include, among others:

    • Registration completed and prepared by an environmental assessment practitioner or environmental scientist;
    • Screening report included;
    • Written consent from the landowner;
    • Maps of locality;
    • An environmental management programme;
    • Declaration of Commitment.
  • Evidence of public consultation

The department said that registration processing would be done and deliver a registration number within 10 days.


Read: Government looks to floating solar panels to boost energy generation in South Africa

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