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WBHO completes two solar plants, impactful community initiatives in Lichtenburg

WBHO and Sola Group's Merak 2 & 3 solar plants

WBHO and Sola Group's Merak 2 & 3 solar plants

3rd May 2024

By: Marleny Arnoldi

Deputy Editor Online

     

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Construction group Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO) and renewable energy company Sola Group have completed construction of the Merak 2 & 3 solar photovoltaic projects near Lichtenburg, in North West.

The two solar plants, with capacities of 130 MW and 126 MW, respectively, span an area of 4 km2 and will deliver power through a wheeling agreement to mineral sands miner Tronox.

The plants achieved commercial operation in March and April, respectively, after construction started in September 2022.

WBHO has been the majority partner for the design, procurement, construction, installation, connection and commissioning of the plants and grid works.

WBHO projects director Shabier Ismail says there has been a great need for electricity infrastructure, as well as employment and water supply, in the area.

The project created more than 800 local jobs, including subcontractor opportunities for small businesses in the surrounding areas of Bakerville, Grasfontein and Carlisonia.

WBHO and Sola, together with the client, set aside a ringfenced budget for community initiatives during the construction period, including vegetable gardens, repair of streetlights, and provision of school bags, stationary, sanitary packages and sports equipment, as well as provision of transport for school learners to attend extra classes during the holidays.

The companies also supplied generators for pumps and assisted in distributing water in the community. For six weeks, 46-million litres of water were supplied to the entire town of Lichtenburg and surrounding areas – given the impact of loadshedding on the town’s water supply.

WBHO, in particular, offered training to small and medium-sized enterprises in the community to impart skills on management, marketing, logistics and other technical construction-related courses. The training was subsequently extended into a mentorship programme, which now includes on-site work training.

The Merak 2 & 3 solar projects are testament to WBHO’s unique method of community involvement and acknowledging their needs. “Big projects have the potential to leave a community with a better economy, better skills and with better infrastructure, but also with hope and trust, so that a better place can be built together,” concludes WBHO solar projects director Greig Bastion.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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