South African independent power producer BioTherm Energy reports that the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) bidding process, for the first phase of the renewable-energy procurement programme is not facing any stumbling blocks and that it has been a “job well done in every respect of the ‘request for proposals’ process”.
BioTherm Energy CEO Jasandra Nyker says that, from conceptualisation and structure all the way through to evaluation and allocation, it has been a smooth process.
“The levels of DOE efficiency and professionalism associated with this ‘first window’ of renewables allocation engender great confidence in the overall roll-out of the green elements of government’s Integrated Resources Plan,” she adds.
The first foray into the procurement of renewable energy saw BioTherm selected as a preferred bidder for three projects. These projects included two of its solar photovoltaic projects, the 10 MW Konkoonsies solar energy facility and the 10 MW Aries solar energy facility, as well as one of its wind projects, the Dassiesklip wind energy facility, which will generate about 27 MW.
The Aries solar facility will be located on a 30 ha site 36 km south-west of Kenhardt, in the Northern Cape. The Konkoonsies solar facility will be located 32 km north-east of Pofadder. Both solar facilities will comprise about 45 000 photovoltaic solar modules. The engineering and construction contractor on these projects is Germany-based company Juwi Solar.
The Dassiesklip wind facility will be constructed on an area of 350 ha, located 5 km west of Caledon, in the Western Cape. The facility encompasses nine 3 MW wind turbine generators. This wind facility will be built by a consortium consisting of Sinovel, Group Five and Iberdrola.
BioTherm senior associate Marc Wright tells Engineering News the wind and solar projects are expected to start construction in the third quarter of this year and that the company expects the projects to begin operations in the second quarter of 2013.
Wright says a South African subsidiary of Juwi Solar will build the two solar facilities on a fixed price, turnkey basis. “A significant portion of the work will benefit black-owned companies.” The contractor will be responsible for engineering and the procurement of equipment and material for the project and will construct the solar facility in its entirety while also sticking to other terms agreed to with BioTherm. Juwi Solar will provide BioTherm with maintenance and parts services, he notes.
“All BioTherm energy projects, across wind and solar, will be operated and managed by BioTherm Operations & Maintenance, a South African company,” he notes. BioTherm is also working with its service providers to ensure that adequate skills transfer takes place between BioTherm’s employees and its service providers.
The first round of bidding for 3 725 MW of renewable power was undersubscribed, with 28 projects out of a possible 53 accounting for 1 416 MW of power. No projects for hydropower, landfill gas, biomass or biogas were selected, although capacity has been allocated to these renewable resources.
The combined investment in new energy capacity in this first phase will amount to about R100-billion and will be invested during the course of the next 6 to 24 months. Bidding for the second, larger, phase begins in March.
Meanwhile, BioTherm reports funding for its projects is already in place, with a R1-billion commitment from leading offshore energy-focused private-equity group Denham Capital, which is BioTherm’s anchor equity investor, as well as debt funding from Standard Bank, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Nedbank. The IDC has also signed up to fund the empowerment and local community trusts that are shareholders in the projects.
“Preferred bidder selection for these three projects not only reinforces BioTherm’s position within South Africa’s renewable-energy generation industry but will also be a catalyst for our future growth in the sector,” says Nyker.
Based in Johannesburg, BioTherm has a large portfolio of renewable- energy generation projects, not only in South Africa but also in the rest of Africa, which are at advanced stages of planning and development. The company is now planning to bid for rounds two and three of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme in South Africa.
“We also continue to adopt an acquisitive growth strategy in this field, which complements our greenfield development strategy,” Nyker says.
Wright adds that BioTherm is also dedicated to job creation, and ensures that, where possible, communities surrounding the project site benefit the most. “Each of the solar facilities will generate over 130 jobs during construction as well as permanent jobs during operation and maintenance. The wind facility will create close to 1 000 job months during construction and numerous permanent jobs during operation and maintenance,” he concludes. The company has also adopted socioeconomic and economic development programmes as part of its activities in the local communities, where it will run these projects.