630MW wind, solar energy projects in pipeline for SA

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 01 Mar 2024
South African businesses and households are increasingly looking to alternative energy sources like solar and wind.
South African businesses and households are increasingly looking to alternative energy sources like solar and wind.

South African-based independent power producers (IPPs) this week announced significant renewable energy projects that will help alleviate the country’s electricity crisis.

Mining giant Anglo American and renewable energy developer Red Cap announced they will start the construction of large-scale wind and solar projects in a bid to plug the energy shortfall.

These IPP projects will generate 630MW of clean energy to bolster South Africa’s constrained electricity grid.

This, as SA continues to face crippling energy shortages, which are having a detrimental impact on businesses and households.

Over the years, embattled power utility Eskom, which supplies the majority of SA’s energy needs largely from coal-powered solar plants, has been struggling to provide electricity, and has had to implement power cuts to avoid a total grid collapse.

As the power challenges persist, South African businesses and households are increasingly looking to alternative energy sources like solar and wind, with IPPs leading the charge.

From an environmental perspective, the country is also gradually moving away from fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy sources.

Anglo American yesterday announced its jointly-owned renewable energy venture with EDF Renewables − Envusa Energy − has completed the project financing for its first three wind and solar projects in SA.

Enhancing energy reliability

According to the mining giant, these three renewable energy projects, known as the Koruson 2 cluster of projects and located on the border of the Northern and Eastern Cape provinces, will have a total capacity of 520MW of wind and solar electricity generation.

Themba Mkhwanazi, Anglo American regional director for Africa and Australia, says: “The successful project financing of these initial projects marks our first major step towards addressing Anglo American’s largest remaining source of Scope 2 emissions – our electricity supply in Southern Africa.

“As we make progress towards our 2040 carbon-neutral operations commitment, we also see the opportunity to enhance energy reliability and grid resilience in SA. We expect that energy availability to help catalyse extensive socio-economic activity, playing a critical role in unlocking SA’s economic development and growth prospects.”

Anglo American adds that the projects –Umsobomvu Wind (140MW), Hartebeesthoek Wind (140MW) and Mooi Plaats Solar (240MW) – form part of Envusa Energy’s mature pipeline of wind and solar projects in SA.

The renewable energy ecosystem that Envusa Energy plans to develop is expected to supply a mix of renewable energy, generated both on Anglo American’s sites in the Southern African region, and from other sites from which renewable energy will be transmitted via the national grid.

It adds that the Koruson 2 wind and solar projects benefit from outstanding yield resources, coupled with a robust Eskom grid connection.

Anglo American’s three businesses in SA (Anglo American Platinum, Kumba Iron Ore and De Beers), have committed to 20-year offtake agreements with Envusa Energy.

These agreements will see Anglo American Platinum receiving 461MW of supply, Kolomela mine 11MW and Venetia mine 48MW.

The company notes all projects are to reach commercial operation during 2026.

“This inaugural phase of contracts is expected to abate approximately 2.2 million tonnes per year of carbon dioxide,” it says.

Pure private power

Meanwhile, Red Cap yesterday announced the construction of the three 110MW Impofu wind farms in Kouga, Eastern Cape, will begin in this month.

According to the renewable energy developer, this will be the largest pure private renewable energy plant in SA.

At a length of 116 kilometres, it notes, the project also has the longest privately permitted powerline developed for any renewable energy project in the country.

Following over a decade of planning and stakeholder engagement, the wind farms are scheduled to be operational in 2025, Red Cap adds.

“Since 2013, we’ve signed up 87 separate parcels of land for the powerline and spent years negotiating with farmers to lease land on which to build wind turbines. In total, the wind farm’s 57 turbines will extend across 12 pieces of land – with significant benefits for landowners and local agricultural output,” says Jadon Schmidt, business development manager at Red Cap Energy, and project manager of the Impofu project since its inception.

Red Cap points out that the turbines will be constructed with locally-made concrete towers.

Once complete, it adds, the development will supply 330MW of renewable energy to Sasol SA’s Secunda site, where French-based industrial gas supplier Air Liquide operates the largest oxygen production site globally.

In partnership with multinational renewable energy corporation Enel Green Power, the R9 billion project was subject to an extensive environmental impact assessment and public engagement process, says the firm.