4 years ago

Northern Cape Business 2018-19 edition

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  • Africa
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  • Solar
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  • Kimberley
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Officially supported and used by the Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Northern Cape Business is unique as a business and investment guide that focuses exclusively on the Northern Cape Province. In addition to comprehensive overviews of sectors of the economy, this publication has several special articles which focus on transformative projects, such as the solar and wind farms rapidly coming on line and the massive potential represented by the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope, a multi-billion rand international project already taking shape in the vast open plains of the Karoo. Updated information on Northern Cape is also available through our monthly e-newsletter, which you can subscribe to online at, in addition to our complementary business-to-business titles that cover all nine provinces as well as our flagship South African Business title.


SPECIAL FEATURE Renewable energy The Northern Cape is powering ahead of the field in solar and wind power generation. It has been said that one should never let a good crisis go to waste. Former Finance Minister Trevor Manual certainly wasn’t found wanting in terms of Winston Churchill’s famous maxim when the lights started going out all over South Africa in 2007. “Load shedding” provided a spur for Treasury officials to create a system for private companies to start selling power to the national grid, to keep electricity flowing to South African homes and factories. In the process, it kickstarted an industry that is transforming the Northern Cape landscape. Fully 60% of the projects so far allocated have been in the nation’s sunniest province. The system, which became known as the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), has seen more than R200-billion committed to renewable energy projects across South Africa. It aims to add some 6 000MW to the national grid by 2020, and 13 225MW by 2025. In April 2018, new National Energy Minister Jeff Rabebe signed off on projects totalling R56-billion that will add 2 300MW to the national grid. The signing also brought a sigh of relief to investors and manufacturers in the renewable energy sector because there had been a long delay as national utility Eskom argued against accepting more power purchase agreements while they had a surplus. Most of South Africa’s electricity comes from coal and Eskom is spending billions of rands building two huge coal-fired power stations. When a group of dignitaries gathered a month later to inaugurate a solar plant that covers 300ha in the Northern Cape, there was therefore a lot of optimism in NORTHERN CAPE BUSINESS 2018/19 12

SPECIAL FEATURE the air. National government’s confirmation of its commitment to the REIPPPP will allow this booming sector to grow again. Xina Solar One is located at Pofadder on the N14 between Upington and Springbok. There has been mining in this area in the past and new mining operations are starting up again nearby, but Pofadder itself is a tiny town that has mostly been bypassed by trends. Not any more. The R9.4-billion Xina Solar One project is a joint venture between Spanish energy firm Abengoa Solar, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and a community trust representing the local population. The plant is Abengoa’s third in the Northern Cape. Kaxu Solar One is also near Pofadder but Khi Solar One is closer to Upington. All three use concentrated solar power (CSP) which reflects the sun’s rays during the day in to a molten salt storage system. The energy can be slowly released during the night. The 205m tower that collects the rays at the Khi Solar One site is one of the tallest structures in South Africa. The photograph on the opposite page shows the tower surrounded by its reflective panels. (Image: Planet Labs/ The support of two of South Africa’s biggest institutional investors, the IDC and the PIC, has been crucial in getting the renewable energy sector off the ground. According to Business Day, the PIC has so far invested in 16 unlisted projects and its total investment stands at R11-billion. The IDC’s 24 projects are valued at R14-billion and will contribute 1 100MW to the national power grid. The countries of origin of the companies investing in this new industry are varied. They include Vestas (Denmark), Enel Green Power (Italy), Scatec Solar (Norway), Globeleq (United Kingdom), Mainstream Renewable Power and Solar Capital (Ireland), Gestamp Renewable Energies and Abengoa (Spain), SunEdison and SolarReserve (USA), ACWA Power (Saudi Arabia), Tata Power (India), China Longyuan Power Group, (China), Genie (Gulf states), and juwi Group (Germany). Some of these investors are investment funds, some are utility companies expert in power generation, others specialise in renewable energy technology such as wind blades. Every project has a joint ownership consortium or joint venture that includes a local company and a community trust of some sort. The Northern Cape is the natural home for the generation of solar power. Long-term annual direct normal irradiance (DNI) at Upington is 2 816kWh/ m2, according to a survey done for Stellenbosch University by Slovakian company GeoModal Solar. South Africa’s national average is among the best in the world. Stellenbosch University’s Solar Thermal Energy Research Group has six sites monitoring irradiation levels. The small towns of Postmasburg and Groblershoop lie between Upington and Kimberley. They are modest settlements which have ticked along in support of surrounding farmers with some diamond mining and wine cultivation along the way. They are now 13 NORTHERN CAPE BUSINESS 2018/19

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