An innovative new partnership between South32 Hillside Aluminium and Solana Energy is set to transform the Richard’s Bay and King Cetshwayo District (KCD) economic regions and bring much-needed sustainable energy to one of South Africa’s most important commercial hubs.
Launching in June 2022, this multi-phased project will see the establishment of renewable solar power infrastructure, the development of a skills development program in the renewable energy space as well as new venture creation through the roll-out of an installer base for both consumer and small business solar power and battery storage installations.
Through a blended financing model comprising debt and Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) funding, there will be the development of solar PV energy projects which will add between 2 and 2.5MW of renewable energy capacity to the local grid within 12 months.
This enables businesses that supply Hillside Aluminium to start seeing the benefits of renewable electricity.
By ensuring that these businesses are able to reduce their monthly electricity costs and their CO2 emissions, this is expected to have a positive impact for workers and businesses’ and drive investment that supports the transition of the region to a low carbon economy.
Solar Training Academy:
The transformation of the South African energy landscape represents a major employment opportunity for the country through the development of technical and engineering skills for this new growth market.
In mid-2022, this academy will take in young electricians and up-skill them in the fields of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) technology through an accredited program.
With the South African solar rooftop energy market expected at a Compound Annual Growth Rate in excess of 8% for the next 30 years, these will be key skills for the future.
Home and SMME Installer network:
The project will identify 10 potential candidates from the King Cethswayo District who will be used to capacitate 5 new micro-franchises to conduct Solar PV installations in the region for individual households and Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SME) on an innovative monthly payment basis.
This will not only see the creation of 5 new small businesses but will also start demonstrating the benefits of distributed renewable electricity generation.
“We believe this is one of the most exciting renewable energy projects in the country at the moment and its integrated nature and ability to support multiple elements of the broader ecosystem makes it very unique,” Ahmed Motara, the Business Development Lead on behalf of Solana Energy.
He adds: “We are grateful for the opportunity to work with an organisation like South32 who understand the importance and urgency of investing in renewable energy infrastructure and the role it will play in developing the Richard’s Bay community.”
South32 Hillside Aluminium Vice President of Operations Calvin Mkhabela said: “This project provides a significant local economic opportunity with a combination of skills, jobs, economic participation and equitable access to energy.
“As a key player in the Richard’s Bay economy, we have a responsibility to identify and support projects that will facilitate the creation of jobs for the future and economic growth for the entire region. We are excited to partner with Solana Energy on this.”