Private energy company Cennergi, a joint venture between mining group Exxaro and the power unit of Indian multinational Tata, was formally launched in Johannesburg on Wednesday, where it announced its aspiration to acquire and develop 16 GW of energy generation projects in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana by 2025.
The company, which is headed by Thomas Garner, has already submitted solar and wind bids for the second bidding round under South Africa's renewable energy independent power producer procurement programme, which closed on March 5. The South African government is currently in the process of procuring 3 725 MW of renewables capacity to be introduced over the coming few years.
Cennergi had five renewables projects at a relatively advanced stage, including the 11 MW Letsatsi solar project, in the Northern Cape, the 30 MW Lephalale solar plant, in Limpopo, the 40 MW Tiqua wind farm, in the Western Cape, and the 95 MW Tsitsikamma and the 139 MW Amakhala Emoyeni wind projects, in the Eastern Cape.
It also claims to have a pipeline of other South and Southern African projects, including hydropower projects in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, which were submitted to the Department of Energy (DoE) in response to its recent request for information (RFI) about potential baseload power projects that could be introduced before 2019.
The DoE reported recently that it had received 60 300 MW of interest in response to the RFI for the development of cogeneration facilities, as well as coal-fired power stations, natural gas facilities and imported hydropower projects.
Depending on the success of its renewables bids, which would offer it certainty as well as visibility on it future project pipeline, Cennergi and its owners would consider taking the company public, probably through a listing on the JSE, as well as a foreign bourse. But that decision was unlikely to be made within the next year.
Through Cennergi, Exxaro and Khopoli Investments, Tata's local investment arm, will study, develop, own, operate, maintain, acquire and manage private electricity generation projects in the three identified Southern African countries.
Garner says the initial focus is on renewables, but it will also pursue coal and gas opportunities, while remaining below a self-imposed emissions target.
Exxaro CEO Sipho Nkosi said its partner, Tata Power, had already demonstrated technology leadership in the Indian power sector, where it had emerged as the country's largest integrated private power group, with 5 300 MW of generation capacity, including renewables capacity, 1.7-million customers and 3 000 km of transmission infrastructure.
Nkosi said it had been a "very tough journey" to facilitate the creation of a renewables business within the coal-heavy mining group and lauded business growth GM Ernst Venter for the role he played in helping to create the new unit.
Tata Power MD Anil Sardana said the Southern African venture was consistent with the global group's strategy of pursuing growth opportunities for energy development in new markets.
Garner said the entity aimed to become a partner with Eskom and to actively contribute towards solving the energy challenges facing South Africa.