South Africa's independent power procurement programme for renewable energy is experiencing delays, the energy department said on Tuesday.
Energy official Thabang Audit (SUBS: CORR) said 47 preferred bidders to supply renewable energy had been selected so far, in December last year and in May, but financial closure had been delayed.
This was because sellers required government guarantees that they would be able to sell their power.
Energy Minister Dipuo Peters had formally applied to National Treasury for these guarantees, and the department was awaiting Treasury's response, he said at a French-South African economic forum in Johannesburg.
Audit said the department was considering whether to increase the amount of renewable energy it would buy.
"We are discussing whether to increase this amount," he said.
The government had already committed itself to taking up around 2000MW of renewable energy from independent power producers.
The Integrated Resource Plan 2010 (IRP 2010) -- which sets out South Africa's energy plans for the next two decades -- sees around 3725MW of power coming from renewable sources such as wind and solar.
Should more renewable energy suppliers be invited to bid, capacity procured in this way would be from the remaining 1000MW of capacity the IRP 2010 provided for, Audit said.
Deadlines for bids by independent producers received under a third procurement round had been extended to May next year. The department was not yet ready to announce its coal and nuclear plans.
"We are still doing our homework," said Audit.
Forum chair Gerard Wolf said he had brought a delegation of 40 companies from France to discuss investment opportunities and trade relations with South Africa. Sectors such as energy, infrastructure, transport, and logistics were being discussed.
His delegation understood that issues such as localisation were a necessary part of doing business in South Africa, he said.
"This is why we feel so at home here, because we understand that there's no way to build a long-term partnership without strong social content."
Wolf demurred when asked whether any deals had been made so far.
"I'm not here to sign contracts myself. I would be glad if some of the companies would sign contracts together, but that is their decision to make," he said.