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Feb 22, 2008

AltX-listed firm studies Eastern Cape wind power options

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Port|Africa|Aluminium|Building|Business|Cleaning|Engineering|Eskom|Mining|Power|PROJECT|Projects|Resources|Sustainable|Africa|Cleaning|Energy|Maintenance|Power Generation|Power-generation|Products|Services|Infrastructure
Port|Africa|Aluminium|Building|Business|Cleaning|Engineering|Eskom|Mining|Power|PROJECT|Projects|Resources|Sustainable|Africa|Cleaning|Energy|Maintenance|Power Generation|Power-generation|Products|Services|Infrastructure
port|africa-company|aluminium|building|business|cleaning-company|engineering|eskom|mining|power|project|projects|resources|sustainable|africa|cleaning|energy|maintenance|power-generation|power-generation-industry-term|products|services|infrastructure
AltX-listed flooring and chemicals company Safic has taken a proactive stance in light of South Africa's power crisis and is studying the feasibility of building a wind turbine power station at its East London plant, which could become the third such facility in the country.

CEO Fred Platt told Engineering News Online on Friday that the company would have the results of the study within "the next couple of weeks", and hoped to start the project "as soon as possible".

"Sustainable energy is part of our strategy going forward," he said in an interview in Johannesburg, adding that the company understood its energy responsibilities.

He pointed out that East London - located along the same stretch of coastline as the "windy city", Port Elizabeth - was in an area that had the potential to harvest wind resources for electricity generation.

Currently, there were two other wind turbine projects in South Africa.

These comprised State-owned Eskom's 3,2 MW Klipheuwel wind farm located in the Western Cape, and the 5,2-MW privately owned wind farm at nearby Darling, which was set for first power generation this month.

The State-owned company also had plans to build another wind farm that could have a capacity of between 100 MW and 200 MW.

Eskom has run out of excess power capacity, which led to areas around the country suffering from load shedding late last year and in January this year.

The situation deteriorated to such an extent that the power parastatal even told mining companies on January 24 that it could not guarantee them power, leading to South Africa's biggest mines closing for days.

Since then, it had asked the entire country to reduce its power consumption by one-tenth, in a bid to stabilise the grid before the high-consumption winter months arrived.

Platt could not provide details as to the potential size of the plant or the cost, but said that these would emerge after the feasibility study had been completed.

ACQUISITION PHASE


Meanwhile, Safic had over 2007 been optimising its business to grow revenue and margins, but now it had entered a new phase of growth, which meant acquisitions were on the horizon.

It concluded late last year the acquisition of Centurion Glass & Aluminium, the manufacturer and installer of architectural aluminium sections, and glass facades of window doors, for R75-million.

Platt said that the firm would not stop there, and was hoping to finalise yet another buy in late 2008.

"We have identified a number of potential companies."

EARNINGS UP 50%


Safic also reported on Friday that attributable headline earnings for the half-year ended December had increased by 50% to R7,8-million compared with the same period in 2006, translating to a 18% rise in headline earnings a share.

Revenue was up 11% year-on-year to R122-million, with a gross profit of R66-million, Safic said in an emailed statement.

The company said that these results indicated that the South African economy was still buoyant, albeit slower than the previous six months.

"Although the macroindicators have changed dramatically, we continue to see strong demand for the group's flooring, glass and aluminium and maintenance products," said Platt. "We expect this level of demand to be maintained, or even increase, over the next six months."

Safic manufactures and distributes chemical cleaning and flooring products and provides services to the infrastructure sector.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online

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