2 years ago

Service - Leadership in Government - Issue 77

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September is a time of renewal. In this edition of Service, we look at what is about to be renewed, in the process of being renewed, and in need of renewal in South Africa.


S energy ABULELE ADAMS: PROJECT MANAGER FOR THE PHASE 2 REDZ SEA Adams MSc (Geography) has been an environmental assessment practitioner at the CSIR since January 2014. She has worked on the national strategic infrastructure projects including the Phase 1 and 2 National Wind and Solar PV SEA, Electricity Grid Infrastructure SEA as well as the Square Kilometre Array SEA. The Phase 2 SEA identified areas best-suited for wind and PV development. What were the assessments based on? The SEA identified areas based on the assessment of a wide range of opportunities and constraints. Opportunities • Availability of wind and solar resources • Areas within 50km of projects selected in REI4P rounds 1 to 4b • Areas within 50km of projects with an approved EA from DEFF • Access to the electricity grid (substations and gazetted EGI corridors) • Areas within municipalities with clusters of previously mined land (that could potentially be used for PV) and priority industrial zones. Constraints • Environmental sensitivities, such as flora, terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity birds and conservation-planning priorities • Agriculture, landscape integrity and visual impacts • Heritage including archaeology, paleontology and cultural heritage • Civil aviation, including airfields and radar • Defence • Telecommunication and weather services • Square Kilometre Array radio-telescope and potential electromagnetic interference • Noise impacts on sensitive receptors. Please tell us about the sensitivity maps and assessment protocols that were generated by the SEAs. The sensitivity maps indicate areas within the REDZs that contain sensitive receptors that developers should avoid when constructing wind and solar PV projects. The aim is to encourage development to occur in areas with low sensitivity. Another outcome of the SEA process was the gazetting of the assessment protocols. The protocols set out information requirements Annual mean wind speed in m/s at 100m height above ground level as modelled by the Wind Atlas for South Africa project. for theme-specific specialist reports. The need for the development of protocols arose because there was no standardised approach in South Africa for the assessment of impacts in specialist studies in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). The following protocols were gazetted in March 2020: • Agriculture for wind and solar photovoltaic developments • Agriculture for all developments • Avifauna • Noise • Defence • Civil aviation The terrestrial plant and animal species protocols were gazetted in October 2020. How do REDZs affect localisation? The SEA did not specifically consider localisation in the renewable energy sector in South Africa. A PhD study by Dr Stanley Semelane, Senior Researcher, CSIR, is relevant. His study evaluates available PV business opportunities in coal phase-out regions: An energy transition case of Steve Tshwete Local Municipality in South Africa. Our CSIR analysis of the jobs impacts of the national power generation expansion plan (the IRP 2019) confirms that while there will be a reduction in jobs in the coal-mining sector (as ageing coalfired power stations are decommissioned), there will be a net increase in jobs in the wind, solar and natural gas new-build deployment. The just energy transition presents considerable opportunity for renewable energy technology localisation and economic growth. The transition will need to be carefully managed to mitigate the impacts of the coal phase-out in Mpumalanga. Why is the declaration of Emalahleni as a REDZ viewed as important for the just transition? We did the SEA that led to the Emalahleni REDZs in 2017 to 2019, and since then there have been some significant new initiatives that should be incorporated. The Emalahleni REDZ is currently only for solar PV, and not wind. We would like to further refine this REDZ by assessing impacts related to wind turbines and adding the sensitivity mapping for wind energy, and potentially expand the boundary of the REDZs to consider recent “pull factors” for renewable energy such as the access to grid infrastructure where coal power stations are planned to close and the increased demand for renewable energy in the Secunda area. ■ As part of our work, we have developed a solar PV procurement guideline to assist municipalities in the approach, criteria and processes to procure their own solar PV installations. 18 | Service magazine

energy S ROHAIDA ABED: ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT PRACTITIONER Abed has 10 years of experience in environmental management. She is conducting environmental assessments for port infrastructure, bulk liquid storage facilities and renewable energy. Abed has been involved in screening studies, applications for amendments to environmental authorisations and management programmes, legislative reviews and specialist studies. She was the project manager for the gas pipeline and electricity grid infrastructure expansion SEA (Phase 2). Please give an overview of the environmental management programmes that guided the construction of the electricity grid infrastructure. One of the outcomes of the 2016 EGI SEA was the compilation of generic EMPrs for the development of overhead electricity transmission and distribution as well as substation infrastructure. These EMPrs were gazetted for implementation in March 2019 and are intended to be used as part of the environmental assessment process for EGI-related activities that trigger the need for an environmental authorisation. The EMPrs pre-approve generally accepted outcomes that can be used for the management of impacts associated with the development of EGI. The generic EMPrs improve efficiency and reduce the need for the environmental assessment practitioner to prepare, and the competent authority to review individual EMPrs for such applications. Provision is made in the generic EMPrs to capture any site-specific impact management actions that may need to be included. The SEAs identified and pre-assessed corridors that are best suited for gas transmission pipeline and EGI development from an environmental sensitivity and engineering constraints perspective. The gazetting process concluded in 2021, resulting in 100km-wide corridors wherein a basic assessment process is permitted for such energy-related infrastructure development, as well as a reduced 57-day decision-making time (instead of 107 days). The SEA in 2017-2019 led to the gazetting of two extended power line corridors and nine gas transmission pipeline corridors this year. Please tell us more. The SEAs aimed to address the challenges and delays around obtaining environmental approvals for gas pipeline and EGI by developing a streamlined environmental assessment and decision-making process, while ensuring the highest level of environmental protection. Umoya Energy Wind Farm. A generic EMPr for gas transmission pipelines was also developed that provides a pre-approved template for the environmental assessment, with the aim of improving efficiency and assuring best-practice management measures are captured in sufficient detail. The CSIR has assessed a range of energy generation scenarios for South Africa to provide an evidence-based view of long-term power system expansion options. Possible future: Hypothetical energy-flow diagram (Sankey) for South Africa’s future energy system. To date, the DFFE, through the CSIR and SANBI, has successfully undertaken several national-scale SEAs for the renewable energy, freshwater and marine aquaculture, EGI, shale-gas development, natural-gas pipelines and the Square Kilometre Array radiotelescope. The series of SEAs conducted by the CSIR has become a benchmark for strategic environmental assessment, both nationally and internationally. This is evidenced by CSIR, DEA and SANBI receiving an international award in May 2018 from the International Association for Impact Assessment for advancing SEA in South Africa. S Service magazine | 19

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