Renewable-energy independent power producer and energy consulting group Next Renewable Generation (NrG) has concluded a significant investment deal with Japanese trading company Inabata to further fund the development of renewable-energy projects in Africa.
The investment deal, finalised in September, will see Inabata provide NrG with a significant investment amount that provides NrG with the credentials and capital to develop commercial and industrial projects larger than 10 MW, explains NrG CEO Dr Dino Petrarolo. The deal will also allow Inabata to source renewable-energy technologies such as biomass technologies, solar panels and invertors for NrG at significantly competitive rates.
Inabata, a listed company on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, also undertakes activities such as the manufacturing and processing of plastics, chemicals and electronics and currently operates in 18 countries. Having collaborated with NrG on the development of an African utility power project in 2015, Inabata sees the deal as an opportunity to extend its trading platform into Africa.
“Further, as the owner of two of the first true private power purchase agreements (PPAs) in South Africa, NrG views this investment as a catalyst to [the company] becoming a leader in the African power industry,” Petrarolo tells Engineering News.
The company is currently involved in about 50 projects, which are in various stages of proposals and feasibility and range in size from 150 kW to 50 MW.
While NrG focuses primarily on solar energy, the company is also involved in gas turbine and biomass technologies, as well as in using gas technologies as a bridge between fossil fuels and renewable energies.
One of its key projects for 2015 and 2016 is the first solar photovoltaic (PV) PPA of its kind in South Africa in the commercial space, where NrG built and funded a 140 kWp PV power plant, the energy produced being sold to retail solutions company Smollan.
Maintaining Investor Confidence
Petrarolo highlights a decline in interest and investor confidence in the country’s renewable-energy industry, with some foreign investors either choosing to pull out or not entering the market at all, owing to public announcements and uncertainty around government energy programmes or direction.
“However, this investment into NrG, a renewable-energy [small and medium-sized enterprise], instils confidence in investors and the industry as a whole,” Petrarolo avers. He concludes that, given the uncertain economic conditions South Africa finds itself in, maintaining the positive view of a healthy and growing energy market is key.