The third phase of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) energy in South Africa has three primary goals.
- It intends to realign the boundaries of the Emalahleni REDZ in Mpumalanga and the Beaufort West REDZ to determine the possibility of including additional areas along the boundaries;
- It aims to assess the Klerksdorp and Emalahleni REDZs and reassess the Kimberley, Vryburg and Upington REDZs to accommodate wind energy technology as these five REDZs are currently only gazetted for solar PV developments; and
- It seeks to possibly mitigate the risk of the electrocution of vultures from existing electricity transmission lines in the Stormberg and Cookhouse REDZs in the Eastern Cape.
The REDZs support the execution of the Integrated Resource Plan which presented an infrastructural development scenario of a South Africa that has a diversified energy mix, where environmental impacts associated with energy production are reduced, and electricity is affordable for all. The wind and solar PV SEAs have been instrumental in directing the increasing and ever changing demand for streamlining Environmental Authorisation (EA) processes for renewable energy development projects.
The outcome of the first and second phase SEAs were 11 REDZs altogether which had been identified as geographical areas in which large scale wind and solar PV developments are considered most appropriate from a national strategic perspective, and thus can be fast tracked if located within the gazetted REDZs.
The three new proposed REDZs were gazetted for public comment by the Department of Environment Forestry and Fisheries on 17 July 2020.
Figure 1: The five gazetted EGI corridors (gazetted in 2018) and the Expanded Western and Eastern EGI Corridors (as an outcome of the 2019 EGI Expansion SEA gazetted in 2021), as well as the 11 REDZs.