Renewables sector key players respond to government’s call to action

June 3rd, 2019, Published in Articles: Energize

Recent developments in the South African energy sector have created a favourable climate for renewable resources to take centre stage in the future of the country’s energy landscape. In a bold, but necessary move to downscale his Cabinet, President Cyril Ramaphosa elected Gwede Mantashe as the new minister of mineral resources and energy.

It is expected that Mantashe will honour the recent announcement by Government granting permission to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to license applications from enterprises from various industries, to generate their own electricity. These licenses will be granted without waiting for the publication of government’s new long-term plan for the electricity sector, the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

In a separate move, Ramaphosa signed into law the Carbon Tax Act No 15 of 2019, which came into effect on 1 June 2019, as announced by the minister of finance in the 2019 Budget. Government has outlined its commitment to play its part in global efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as outlined in the National Climate Change Response Policy (NCCRP) of 2011 and the National Development Plan (NDP) of 2012.

These developments have been welcomed by key players in the energy sector. According to Dominic Wills, CEO of the recently merged Sola Group, these steps are seen as positive, as they set the stage for a socialised electricity grid with multiple power sources, which would allow for the most affordable energy to be available to South African industry and encourage economic growth.

“In light of these recent developments, it is fitting that two historically interlinked companies, Aurora Power Solutions and Sola Future Energy, combine forces to form the Sola Group,” Wills explains. “The group will constitute two companies: “Sola Build” and “Sola Assets” but will operate under one umbrella.”

The two companies merged in March 2018, and of 1 June have consolidated their offering as a vertically integrated renewable energy company, offering all stages of solar PV implementation – from project development and financing, design, procurement, construction, to the operations and maintenance of solar PV facilities. The merger brings together a large solar project pipeline, including 48 MW in Zambia and 79 MW in South Africa with various government, commercial and industrial clients.

The merger comes at a time where there has never been a greater need for new energy generation. In March this year, the World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index, South Africa ranked second last out of 115 economies, on the scale of progress in transition towards a more sustainable and secure global energy system. This, coupled with Eskom’s on-going state of emergency and 15% tariff increase, has created an urgent need for collaboration between government and the private sector.

Wills explains that the group’s main objective is to help unlock the economic potential of entire communities across Africa, through access to energy. “With the merger, the combined expertise and experience of the group will ensure that higher energy consumption demands, which will enable the servicing of large-scale clients throughout the African continent, can be met.”

“With government recently opening the way for businesses to generate their own electricity and feed this into the national grid, the time was right to consolidate our offering, to remove barriers to clean energy and use our business as a force for good, in both commercial and utility markets in South Africa,” he says. He adds that resurgence in oil and gas production, deep declines in the cost of renewable energy sources and growing electrification are changing the face of the global energy system and upending traditional ways of meeting energy demand.

“This is an exciting time for the group, as it enters the next stage of growth. Joining the two companies will enable the Group to provide extensive solar PV services as a consolidated offering to further clean energy in Africa. It is important for customers to understand is that the same high level of service and support will be provided,” Wills concludes.

Contact Dominic Wills, Sola Group, Tel 021 421-9764, dom@solafuture.co.za

 

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