Kenya wind turbines

Project Details

Thematic Project
Renewable Energy
Anton Eberhard
South Africa
Power Futures Lab, University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (GSB)
Anton Eberhard profile picture

Anton Eberhard

Principal Investigator
Wikus Kruger profile picture

Wikus Kruger

Researcher, University of Cape Town

Renewable Energy Auctions

Improving the design and implementation of renewable energy auctions in Sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate investment in clean energy technologies


Background, challenges and context

Recent years have seen record levels of renewable electricity being procured and the lowest ever prices recorded for long-term renewable energy contracts, in many cases undercutting the costs for fossil-fuel based electricity generation. This trend in renewable energy investment and costs is in large part driven by the rise of auctions – interchangeably referred to as competitive tenders or bids – for long-term contracts between Independent Power Projects and off-takers, typically the national or local utility.

Previously, feed-in tariffs were the most widespread renewables support mechanism, but delivered little investment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Auctions, although quite recent, have already delivered more investment in renewables at lower prices than any other procurement or contracting method for the region.

Running effective auctions requires good planning, procurement and contracting capacity, and can involve significant transaction costs. Auctions also risk attracting too little bidding interest, leading to higher prices, as well as delays in reaching financial close and construction. While these are important to consider, a well-designed and implemented programme can effectively mitigate these risks, and costs can be easily offset by the benefits of lower tariffs.

However, many African countries have struggled to successfully address the risks and costs involved, resulting in poor outcomes.

Research overview and objectives  

There is an important need to learn from and distil current experiences with renewable energy auctions for the African context. The specific objectives of this study are to:

  • Improve understanding of renewable energy auction design choices, de-risking mechanisms, implementation modalities and associated outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Link research on renewable energy auctions in different world regions for the benefit of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

  • Adapt and apply a coherent analytical framework for renewable energy auctions across different market segments, allowing for comparison and identification of appropriate lessons

  • Appropriately disseminate and build capacity on renewable energy auction design and implementation for Sub-Saharan Africa. The aim is to support 2-3 countries, but ultimately this will be determined by demand from the countries themselves

Local partners

Government officials from Uganda, Mozambique, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone

External Journal Articles
Back to blackouts: How SA’s energy problems are just the tip of the iceberg
Lessons from Brazil and India as South Africa gets set to resume renewables auctions
De-risking solar auctions in sub-Saharan Africa – A comparison of site selection strategies in South Africa and Zambia