The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has committed to contribute to the implementation of the National Development Plan and National Infrastructure Plan by undertaking Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) to identify adaptive processes that integrate the regulatory environmental requirements for Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) while safeguarding the environment. The first iteration of the wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) SEA was accordingly commissioned by DEA in 2013, in support of SIP 8, which aims to facilitate the implementation of sustainable green energy initiatives.
This SEA identified areas where large scale wind and solar PV energy facilities can be developed in a manner that limits significant negative impacts on the environment, while yielding the highest possible socio-economic benefits to the country. These areas are referred to as Renewable Energy Development Zones (REDZs). The REDZs also provide priority areas for investment into the electricity grid for which a SEA was also commissioned in 2014, namely the Electricity Grid Infrastructure (EGI) SEA. The EGI SEA identified power corridors that will enable the efficient and effective expansion of key strategic transmission infrastructure designed to satisfy national transmission requirements up to 2040. The gazetting of the outputs of these two SEAs (Figure 1) was approved by Cabinet on 17 February 2016.
The second iteration of the wind and solar PV SEA has recently been commissioned by DEA in order to identify additional REDZs and to review the existing REDZs at national scale. This process will aim to provide additional anchor points for grid expansion and provide dedicated energy generation areas from which electricity must be collected, thereby allowing strategic investment.