JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Work is scheduled to begin soon on the construction of a wind farm in Mpumalanga, South Africa’s electricity heartland.
The project, which begins with 155 MW of wind energy and expands to a capacity of 900 MW of renewables and 800 MWh of battery storage, forms part of an agreement that will see clean power wheeled through the national grid to meet the carbon neutrality aspirations of coal-mining company Seriti Resources. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)
“We’re excited,” said Seriti Resources CE Mike Teke, who made the announcement online alongside Seriti Resources corporate finance head Layton Nenzinane, Seriti Green CEO Peter Venn, and Seriti Resources CFO Doug Gain.
Seriti Resources in Decembrer acquired 100% of Windlab South Africa through its climate-change-mitigating subsidiary, Seriti Green, the developer of the wind energy initiatives in Mpumalanga’s Morgenzon, Bethel and Standerton areas.
Standard Bank, RMB and VennEnergy are Seriti’s transaction partners. The shareholdings are Seriti with 54.19%, Venn Energy with 15%, Standard Bank with 15.41% and RMB with 15.41%.
Seriti Coal operates three opencast and underground thermal coal mines – New Vaal, New Denmark and Kriel – which supply Eskom’s Lethabo, Tutuka and Kriel power stations, and the New Largo mine is under development to meet the needs of the new adjacent Kusile power station.
In addition, it brought Khutala, Klipspruit, Pegasus and Middelburg Mines Services into the fold last year through the acquisition of South32’s coal operations, which provide coal to Eskom’s Kendal and Duhva power stations, and the export market through the Richards Bay Coal Terminal.
Co-owned by Masimong Group Holdings, Community Investment Holdings, Zungu Investments, and Thebe Investment Corporation, Seriti ringfences 10% of the equity of its mining operations for employees and communities through unencumbered employee and community trusts.
“I'd like to emphasise that we want to participate as progressively and as collaboratively as possible in the just energy transition," Teke said during a media briefing in which Mining Weekly participated.
“It’s imperative that whilst we make this journey, we take along with us the communities within which we operate, we take along the strategy of this country to make sure that we are energy independent, that we have security of energy and it's affordable and it's accessible to everybody.
“It’s important that, as we grow Seriti Coal, we grow Seriti Green, and we understand that the whole story of climate change is a reality that needs to be addressed seriously, and we reduce our own carbon footprint and we achieve our own carbon neutrality over time.
“We’re going to make sure that we are active in participating in the future energy needs of not only our country, not only of the Southern African Development Community, not only of the sub-Saharan African region, but of the entire continent,” said Teke, whose investment in WindLab comes with assets in Kenya and Tanzania.
With 23 projects at different stages of development, Seriti Green is seen as being well-positioned to play a growing role in bringing responsible and impactful renewable energy projects to fruition.
“It’s really a humble moment as we sit here to start the first construction of a wind farm in Mpumalanga. This is the heartland of energy in South Africa and to transition in a mindful way to renewable energy is important,” said Venn.
“Following on from last week’s announcement of Msenge Emoyeni’s power purchase agreement (PPA) with Sasol, we are now announcing the PPA for Mpumalanga for a long-term offtake with Seriti Resources,” Venn added.
The project is about R4-billion rand in capital cost and that is just the first 155 MW phase. It has environmental authorization at a very strategically placed wind farm.
“From site, you can see three power stations, particularly to our west, you can see Tutuka power station,” Venn noted.
Interestingly, Tutuka power station’s electricity availability factor, or EAF, is between 17% and 19%, which will be outdone by the 40% capacity factor of the new wind farm that will be popping up just down the road, which is poised to considerably outperform its coal next-door neighbour.
“As part of the just energy transition process that we’re going through, we’re looking to significantly leverage the New Denmark mine, which is 20 kilometers away," said Venn, who added that reclaimed water from the mine to assist with construction.
"We’re making a big commitment to localisation. Almost certainly, we will be doing significant concrete towers on site." The first 110 m or so of the towers that will extend up to 150 m will be concrete.
“Batching the concrete on New Denmark or close to site, leveraging the water from the mine and building out a significant energy plant in a Mpumalanga is important," Venn said.
“Let's talk to the elephant in the room, loadshedding. There are short-term solutions to alleviate some stages of loadshedding. Those short-term solutions include solar, demand response, potentially emergency power, but the only long-term solution is new generation.
“If you read the plans that are out there, many times this is forgotten. The only way we have security of supply in the five-year to 20-year period is through new generation and we saw Sasol announce three projects last week, and we're announcing this project this week.
“We’ll see significant projects being announced across the country as the weeks go by, and in two to three years’ time, we’ll see three gigawatts to six gigawatts of renewable energy coming online and alleviating the loadshedding challenges that we have in the country,” said Venn.
The need for a stable electricity supply continues to grow abreast of the global acknowledgement of the critical risk climate change poses.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Forestry, Fisheries and Environment will from tomorrow visit Mpumalanga to conduct public hearings on the Climate Change Bill.
The objective of the Bill is to enable the development of an effective climate change response and a long-term, just transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy and society for South Africa in the context of sustainable development.
The has committee invited interested parties to attend the public hearings and comment on the Climate Change Bill.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
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