Big firms may muscle in on small producer plan, warns IPP

Cape Town – The darling of South Africa’s renewable energy independent power producers (IPP) procurement programme (REIPPP) said government must be careful not to allow big multinationals to abuse the new small projects IPP programme.

This comes as the Department of Energy announced 10 preferred bidders in a category that seeks between 1 MW and 5 MW and will produce a total of 49 MW.  

Darling-based entrepreneur Anthony Corin is one of the country’s first IPPs and is also its smallest, with his 5 MW solar photovoltaic plant SlimSun, a shining example of clean energy.

He told media during a tour of his plant last week that while it might be the smallest of all the renewable projects in the big programme, SlimSun punches way above its weight.

“I am the best known individual in the programme because I’ve engaged from day one (when the IPP programme was started in 2010),” he said.

Corin said SlimSun is the only IPP that has been developed by a single person and which is 100% South African-owned. “I designed this plant in 2008 before there was even a REIPPP,” he said. “I will be here until I die or until it closes down.”

“I am a pretty rare species,” he said, referring to his small output. “The Department of Energy recognised that and created this parallel programme for small IPPs.”

However, he said he fears big multinationals are cutting their programmes up into smaller ones to squeeze in to this programme. “I get quite vocal and passionate about those kinds of issues,” he said.

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said the intention of this programme is “to assist small developers in gaining experience in project development as well as in raising the necessary funding for projects of this nature”.

The programme seeks to support local South African small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, she said.

The 10 preferred bidders are Adams Solar PV Project, Bellatrix Solar PV Project, Du Plessis Solar PV4, Steynsrus PV2, Heuningspruit PV1, Steynsrus PV1, Klawer Wind Farm, Hopefield Community Wind Farm, George Small Scale Biomass to Energy, and Busby Renewables (Biomass).

WATCH: Anthony Corin talks about the "sound of money"

Photos from the tour:

Anthony Corin’s A Team, a crew of community members he trained to work full-time at the SlimSun plant. During construction, he employed about 100 unskilled workers from the community. (Photo: Matthew le Cordeur)

Anthony Corin shows media his 5 MW solar photovoltaic farm outside Darling on Friday. He is the country's smallest IPP and is one of the reasons why the Department of Energy has opened a new small IPP unit to cater to businesses generating less than 1 500 MW. (Photo: David le Page)

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