South Africa has made the first step in its efforts to diversify from coal, approving tenders for a renewable energy drive to install 630 MW of wind projects and a similar quantity of solar PV.

The 28 preferred bidders for first round tenders, with projects totaling 1416 MW, have until the end of June to have financing in order, with construction to begin shortly thereafter.

According to the South Africa Department for Energy, a further 2200 MW of renewable projects will be announced over the coming two years as South Africa looks to diversify from coal.

The news was welcomed by the Global Wind Energy Council‘s secretary general, Steve Sawyer, he said: “Much of sub-Saharan Africa has tremendous wind and solar potential, a dynamic and growing economy and severe water shortages; perfect conditions to grow a renewable energy industry.”

South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan, adopted in 2010, calls for 8400 MW of wind power over the course of the next 20 years.

Of the projects selected, around 632 MW were for solar photovoltaic projects; 150 MW for concentrated solar power and 634 MW, for wind developments.

South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Rob Davies said that “The South African Renewables Initiative aims to unlock the environmental, industrial, and economic benefits that large-scale renewable energy offer to South Africa, without imposing an unacceptable burden on our economy, public finances or citizens.”

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