Clean energy venture

2012-11-29 00:00

EQUIPPED with the necessary experience in the clean energy sector, a KZN-based company has formed a joint venture (JV) with UK-based Camco Clean Energy to roll out a number of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects in South Africa.

The estimated total investment is in the region of R80 million.

Together with the financial muscle of Camco, Durban-based local renewable energy company Megawatt 1 (MW1) is planning to initiate five projects with the potential to generate about 25 MW of power for South Africa’s electricity grid.

MW1 director Florian Kroeber told The Witness that they are in the process of identifying suitable locations. He added that Camco is seen as an ideal partner for MW1.

“Our strengths lie in installation, project management, addressing issues like EIAs [environmental impact assessments] and administration. We chose the international partner due to the financing of the project. We need the capital that Camco is able to provide,” explained Kroeber.

He said the partners plan to source the highest quality equipment at the best possible price for the plants, adding that local suppliers would be a key focus area in this regard.

Kroeber added: “We are looking at areas where the solar radiation is at its highest — and that is usually inland South Africa. The sites also need to be close to Eskom’s distribution network points.

“We also need to look at land use. We obviously do not want to take away productive agricultural land and … residential land.”

Kroeber said the projects would form part of South Africa’s long-term independent power producer programme.

He added that a project has a typical timeline of two to three years from start to finish.

MW1, which is based in downtown Durban, was established about three years ago.

Camco said in a statement that it plans to extend the JV to other technologies and countries in the African region.

Camco Clean Energy CEO Scott McGregor added that the continent was in desperate need of infrastructure and expertise in this sector.

“Not surprisingly, distributed renewable energy is a key element of regional strategies for increasing energy access, improving energy security and as a consequence economic development.

“Southern Africa represents significant opportunities for us, given recent policy development and our … expertise in clean energy generation in Africa.

“The highly qualified team, detailed knowledge of the local solar PV industry and technical project development expertise make MW1 a logical partner for us,” said McGregor.

EARLIER this year (June 2012), power licences were approved by the National Energy Regulator of SA for successful bidders of renewable energy projects.

The 28 bidders formed part of the first phase of the country’s renewable energy independent power producer programme.

The intention is for power to be generated through renewable resources such as solar or wind and sold back to the state via Eskom.

South Africa’s Green Fund has received a total of 590 applications, totalling R10,9 billion in its opening round of request for funding proposals.

Organisations that have applied include non-profit organisations, the private sector and government departments across all the provinces of South Africa.

Applications will now go through a rigorous evaluation process based on the fund’s approved criteria.

This process will take up to five months before applicants are notified of the outcome.

The Green Fund has been set up to provide catalytic finance for environmentally sustainable initiatives to transition South Africa towards a greener economy, and is administered by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) on behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs.

— Witness Reporter.


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