New energy project to power 180K homes in SA

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo
Johannesburg, 15 Feb 2024
At the heart of the Oya Energy project are co-located wind turbines, solar PV arrays, lithium-ion batteries and a hybrid controller.
At the heart of the Oya Energy project are co-located wind turbines, solar PV arrays, lithium-ion batteries and a hybrid controller.

The Oya Energy project reached financial close this week, and upon completion, is expected to power 180 000 South African homes with clean energy.

The Oya Energy Hybrid Project will be jointly owned and operated by Engie (35%), G7 Renewable Energies (20%), Meadows Energy (22.5%) and Perpetua Investment Holdings, (22.5%). It is one of the 11 preferred bidders under South Africa’s Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme.

The announcement comes as South Africa continues to face crippling energy shortages, with embattled power utility Eskom, which supplies the bulk of the country’s electricity, battling to meet demand.

Amid the power shortages, SA has gradually been introducing renewable energy sources to plug the electricity shortfall.

Eskom recently implemented the much-dreaded stage six load-shedding after facing setbacks due to 10 generating units being taken out of service.

The state-owned company has since reduced the load-shedding severity to stage three.

The power utility produces most of its energy from coal-fired plants. Lack of maintenance of these plants, as well as corruption stemming from state capture, have been cited as the biggest reasons for the problems at Eskom.

In his State of the Nation Address last week, president Cyril Ramaphosa said since reviving the renewable energy programme, more than 2 500MW of solar and wind power have been connected to the grid, with three times this amount already in procurement or construction.

Sustainability moves

In 2023, Oya Energy signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with Eskom and an implementation agreement with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

Once operational, the Oya Energy Hybrid Project will provide essential dispatchable energy to the South African grid.

According to a statement, the Oya Energy Hybrid Project stands as a pioneering example of sustainable energy innovation. It combines 155MW of solar PV power, 86MW of wind power and 92MW / 242MWh battery energy storage, within a single location.

This greenfield development spans the Western and Northern Cape provinces, between the towns of Ceres and Sutherland.

Engie notes that at the heart of this project are co-located wind turbines, solar PV arrays, lithium-ion batteries and a hybrid controller.

It explains that this integrated system efficiently orchestrates all three technologies, providing dispatchable power to the grid as and when needed.

“Not only is the Oya Energy Hybrid Project the largest hybrid energy project of its kind in Africa, it is also globally unique in terms of its technology mix, size and cost-effectiveness. Its strategic location boasts abundant natural resources and proximity to the grid connection point, complemented by advanced battery storage capabilities,” says the company.

Mohamed Hoosen, Engie MD of renewables for Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, as well as SA country manager, says: “The Oya Hybrid project is an innovative, first-of-its-kind power solution, and Engie is pleased to partner with G7 Renewable Energies to build, own and operate this facility in SA. The Oya hybrid project is a testament to Engie’s commitment to the long-term low-carbon energy security of SA.”

“This is a momentous milestone for G7 and its partners in the Oya Project,” says Dr Kilian Hagemann, CEO of G7.

“We are incredibly proud of our team and grateful for the support of our partners. As the original developer of Oya since 2015, G7 led the complex hybrid technical modelling, supplementing the originally planned standalone wind farm with optimally-sized battery storage and photovoltaic to deliver this project.

“The Oya Hybrid Energy Project demonstrates our expertise and ability to develop complex and efficient hybrid renewable energy projects in SA. We look forward to the completion of this project.”

Combined effort

Romaya Dorasamy, MD of Meadows Energy, says: “We are thrilled to announce the success of the Oya Project's financial close. This milestone is a remarkable achievement for Meadows Energy and an enormous step towards a sustainable and innovative energy future.

“The Oya Project is not just a power generation initiative, but a testament to our collective capability to create meaningful change.”

Perpetua Holdings director Logan Govender adds: “We have forged a solid and true sense of collaboration with our respected partners on the Oya Project and we are excited by the innovative and high-impact contribution that we are collectively confident it will deliver as part of South Africa’s energy transition.”

According to the companies, the project will accelerate the country’s transition to renewable power generation and reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 573 105 tonnes annually − the equivalent of 72 680 cars on the road.

The Project falls within the Komsberg Renewable Energy Development Zone.