June 18, 2024

The Rainbow Nation is greener than ever, believes Enel Green Power SA

3 min read

2022 was a year of change for Enel Green Power South Africa. The South African division of the multinational renewable energy company completed various renewable energy projects, helping the country meet its growing energy needs.

Guided by country manager Manuele Battisti, in 2023 EGP SA will intensify its development activities, start construction of new projects and optimise operating activities as South Africa continues its energy transition journey.

EGP South Africa country manager, Manuele Battisti

EGP South Africa’s Soetwater wind farm achieving commercial operation in July last year was a seminal moment for the company. It brought the number of its operational projects to 12, with a managed capacity of over 1.2GW. With the projects now online, the company’s priority is to optimise each of these plants and improve efficiencies. 

Furthermore, following the announcement of the outcome of Bid Window 6 of the Renewable Energy IPP Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), EGP SA was successfully appointed a preferred bidder of two of the five solar projects, with a combined contracted capacity of 300MW. 

“The awarding of the Kutlwano and Boitumelo solar power plants not only increases EGP South Africa’s market share and capacity, but also essentially cements the company’s position as a leading independent power producer in the South African renewables industry,” explains Battisti. 

On the developmental side, there are two main avenues the company intends to explore in the future. The first entails its continued participation in the REIPPP, and the second to increase its client base among commercial and industrial (C&I) off-takers.

Expanding on the second aspect of the developmental agenda, Battisti says there are growing opportunities within the C&I market. “We are in advanced discussions to enter into bilateral power purchase agreements (PPAs). This will allow us to sell electricity directly to C&I customers throughout the country. Thanks to the global experience in private PPA and the DNA as a large utility, Enel Green Power is setting benchmarks for private transactions in South Africa which can speed up the deployment of additional renewable energy”.

Challenges 

In 2022, the economic aftershocks of COVID-19 continued to reverberate throughout the industry while recent geo-political conflicts have presented an additional set of obstacles. The pandemic and lockdowns severely hamstrung the construction of existing projects. Logistics and delays were commonplace during this period, making the supply and transportation of materials challenging. 

“In the past, offers of validity from a supplier would be valid for a month or two. Nowadays, because of the uncertainty and rapidly changing macro-economic factors, validity offers last for even less than a day. This increases the value of an industrial operator like Enel Green Power, which links the needs of suppliers and clients and makes project planning effective,” explains Battisti.

Managing perceptions around renewable energy

There is empirical evidence that renewable energy sources offer cheaper, quicker-to-deploy and more reliable energy alternatives, especially in countries such as South Africa, where abundant wind and solar resources help meet the country’s energy needs with a holistic approach. 

“As a company that deals with renewable energy from every perspective, we have a responsibility to conscientise the public about the importance of sustainability. Currently, renewables can be further supported to meet South Africa’s energy needs by advancing technologies such as battery energy storage systems,” continues Battisti.

The green economy also promises direct and indirect employment and skills training opportunities across the value chain. For context, at the peak of the construction of its Karusa and Soetwater wind farms, Enel Green Power had 1 160 employees on site, performing a host of services from general maintenance to alien vegetation management. 

“Ensuring South Africa has reliable energy will foster the economic growth that both businesses and ordinary citizens are desperate for,” adds Battisti. 

2023 expectations

Battisti foresees that the increasing cost of electricity supply and the need for carbon footprint reduction will likely increase commercial and industrial demand for power from IPPs in 2023. 

Among the broader industry, there is a belief that the long-anticipated structural changes to the national power utility Eskom will take place and signify an important evolution of South Africa’s energy market with the creation of new and additional competencies and jobs. 

“As Enel Green Power, we believe the Rainbow Nation is greener than ever and we are united with South Africa in its Just Energy Transition journey. On this journey, we are committed to developing strong relationships with all stakeholders including consumers, partners, investors, institutions and local communities. Our goal remains consistent: enable progress with sustainable energy,” concludes Battisti.

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