UK-based Renewable Energy Systems (RES) has announced its entry into the South African renewable energy market with the acquisition of a portfolio of wind power projects from Cape Town-based South African Renewable Green Energy.
RES, which is in the process of establishing an office in Cape Town, said that the projects, located in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape, were in the early stages of development, and have an estimated installed capacity of about 300 MW.
"We have studied the market thoroughly and believe it is a very good opportunity for private developers, as well as for the South African State and government, to be able to have large amounts of renewable energy within the next few years," RES Southern Africa director Thomas Riboud told Engineering News Online.
He explained that, while the renewable energy market in South Africa is still very young, the company views it as "an opportunity to have a very efficient development process, which would allow developers to develop quite a large amount of capacity within a tight timeframe".
Riboud noted that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa's implementation of the renewable energy feed-in-tariff was one of the major steps forward from a private developer perspective, because it gives certainty of the revenues and therefore the viability of projects.
"On the development side there is still some work to do - just to map out what the development process going to look like in South Africa," he added.
RES Southern Africa would soon be starting the recruitment process to staff up this subsidiary with the expertise to develop the wind farms. The group expected to have about four or five employees in the next year, and then to increase employee numbers as and when needed.
"We have been working on our strategy for this market for some time and this acquisition is the first step of many to come. We expect the South African renewable energy market to be a very challenging environment for developers, but we are fully committed to developing these projects and building a substantial portfolio in the region," Riboud said.
The company's core expertise is in wind, although it was developing solar and biomass projects in other parts of the world.
RES is involved in all aspects of renewable project development - from site prospecting to operation and maintenance, and has operations across Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region. Involved with wind energy development since the 1970s, RES has developed and/or built more than 4,5 GW of wind energy capacity worldwide, including projects in the UK, Ireland, France, Scandinavia, and the US.
"We are delighted to have completed this deal, which establishes a strong position for us in the market. We have identified South Africa as a substantial growth area for our business. The need to meet growing electricity demand, combined with the need to reduce carbon emissions in response to the pressures of climate change, means there is great potential to exploit the country's abundant wind and solar energy resources," said RES strategy and communications director Stephen Balint.