The signing in April of 27 Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) worth R56-billion has finally resolved the lengthy renewable energy (RE) impasse in South Africa and demonstrates renewed impetus in the country’s RE journey.  It is the initial step of the Department of Energy’s new, clear RE roadmap, which has brought much needed certainty to national energy policy and will fast track investor confidence and boost growth in the economy.  

Renewed impetus in SAs renewable energy journey

This is according to Herman Kriel, Group Managing Director for Brand Engineering SA, specialist electrical engineering contractor.  Established over 45 years ago, Brand Engineering, together with its BBBEE company, Besamandla, operates in southern Africa and the African continent.  

It is responsible for the generation of 472 MW of power for the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) projects and related RE initiatives.

“An integral element of the DoE’s REIPPPP is the generation of local employment opportunities.  Furthermore, it serves to promote transformation, ensure participation by Black industrialists and increase Black business ownership,” says Kriel.  “The signing of the PPAs and ensuing long awaited implementation of bid windows 3.5 and 4 will create approximately 60000 new jobs over the next three years.  The new, clear RE roadmap will help leverage a key objective of the National Development Plan (NDP) which is to grow an inclusive economy.”

The majority of the projects are expected to reach financial closure in the coming few months, with some having closed shortly after the PPAs were signed. 

Having carried out the highest number of utility scale solar RE initiatives in South Africa, Brand Engineering, together with Besamandla, is geared for the implementation of the revitalised REIPPPP projects. 

The organisation has become a key construction partner for RE developers and Integrated Power Producers (IPPs), to which it offers a one stop service.  It carries out balance of plant (BOP) engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) on solar fields; electrical EPC on wind farms; full EPC on grid connections as well as electrical, control and instrument (ECI) installations for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP).

Brand Engineering is also undertaking a number of battery storage initiatives.  “The use of battery storage systems to provide consistent solar power output and manage peak loads is a big game changer for RE,” Kriel contends.  “The decreasing costs of these batteries and other RE technologies are in turn further reducing RE costs.” 

A battery storage project Brand Engineering recently completed is that of an off-grid battery system at the Kruger National Park, which is one of the largest energy storage systems in the southern hemisphere.  It is able to store 1 780 kWh worth of electricity and supply 410 kW worth of peak power.  

“Brand Engineering is the only South African contractor with experience and exposure to all types of RE technologies for commercial and utility scale,” states Kriel.  “We bring our resources and knowledge of the latest technology to improve and ultimately benefit the developer, and we guarantee specified power generation, output and carbon savings for the projects in which we are involved.”

It is fully compliant with the REIPPPP’s socio-economic requirements and in fact has historically exceeded stipulated targets for local employment.  “Employing local workers, transferring and developing skills and uplifting the communities in which we work are integral to our company mission and have resulted in a track record reflecting positive labour relations, which is of benefit to all parties concerned.”

According to Energy Minister, Jeff Radebe, local community shareholding in the newly signed projects amounts to 7,1% of the total value, which amounts to an impressive R1.63 billion.

ISO 9001:2008 certified for Quality Management Systems, Brand Engineering has won numerous awards specifically for RE projects over the last four years.  They are Reticulation Contractor of the Year (for the past three years) and Best Contributor to Energy Efficiency (for the past four years).  The energy contractor is justifiably proud of the recognition given to it for its contribution towards achieving a diverse and sustainable energy mix in South Africa.

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