Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas has congratulated at least 50 solar thermal electricity trainees who successfully completed operations and maintenance programmes aimed at preparing local people for employment opportunities in the province’s flourishing renewable energy sector.The training programme provided trainees with tools and knowledge to to enable them to work in operations and maintenance at solar thermal electricity power stations, known as concentrated solar power (CSP). It was conducted by the engineering company Sener, with collaboration between all Seratype partners (Cobra, Sener and Emvelo).The training is in preparation for the operations and maintenance phase of the project, which is scheduled to commence on 1 December. According to a press release, the 50 candidates were identified within a 50 km radius of the Ilanga CSP1 site. They attended and completed a 200-hour programme from 11 June to 27 July. This consisted of 14 theory modules and practical visits to the Ilanga CSP1 plant to familiarise trainees with the day-to-day operation of solar thermal power stations. Upon completion, 22 of the 50 trainees were hired.During the closing ceremony, held on 18 October, Lucas highlighted Ilanga CSP1’s role as the first and only CSP project that was conceived and developed by a 100% black owned South African developer. “The training for our youth provided by the Ilanga CSP1 partners is a first in the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme and is in line with government’s four accords emanating from the New Growth Path: basic education, skills development, local procurement and the green economy. Siyabonga Mbanjwa, regional managing director of Sener Southern Africa, pointed out the role of South Africa’s National Development Plan to identify education, training and innovation. “We are proud that we have had an opportunity to ensure that people from the Northern Cape are trained in technical aspects of operating a CSP station,” Mbanjwa said. “During the construction of Ilanga CSP1, the project clocked over 6 million working hours and 85% of these were by South Africans, most of whom were local,” said Rafael Alonso, Sener project management.“With CSP, we are creating a solar thermal generation of present and future youth workers and (are striving) for the Northern Cape to become the global hub for the deployment and industrialisation of CSP components,” said Pancho Ndebele, founder of Emvelo. According to Ndebele, their 2030 plan includes all technologies and the government’s flexibility to procure the megawatts it needs at an appropriate time from a basket of all the technologies it has in a balanced mix integrated resource plan.