De Wildt Solar, situated within the Madibeng Local Municipality, close to the town of Brits, in South Africa’s North West Province, commenced commercial operation in January 2021.

Fourth solar project comes on line in North West

The 50 MW De Wildt Solar Power project near Brits, North West, is now commercially operational.

This 50 MW PV project is the fourth utility scale plant that has come on line in the North West, in under five months, making the province a serious player in the renewable energy sector. All four projects are 100% South African owned and as well as delivering much needed power to the country’s national grid, they provide benefits to the local rural communities through local economic development programmes.

“Residents of Brits, Mmakau, Mothotlung, Lethlabile, Ga-Rankuwa and surrounding areas within a 50 km radius of the project will be the direct beneficiaries of the economic development initiatives over the next 20-year operations period. The programmes will include training and accelerator programmes, skills development and others,” said Nomzamo Landingwe, Chief Community Operations Officer for De Wildt Solar.

One of the socio-economic development programmes included the installation of waterless ablution facilities for the Rutanang HIV Care Centre. The community health centre is in the area of Mmakau, close to De Wildt Solar, and provides much needed support and services to hundreds of community members, including primary school children. The NGO assists the community with HIV testing and counselling and education around chronic diseases; it also assists the local clinic with handing out of medication for chronic diseases in the community. The waterless ablution facilities from Enviro Loo were installed to replace the old drop toilets, which are generally unhygienic and sometimes unsafe.

The focus of De Wildt Solar’s economic development programme is to empower and strengthen local beneficiary communities with a focus on education, youth development, health, food security and welfare. The programmes have been chosen following research and engagement to ensure they are well informed and will strengthen the beneficiary communities.

Additionally, a percentage of the revenue generated each year will be committed to implementing enterprise development initiatives. The first beneficiary, a brickmaking facility called Moagi Women Development Primary Cooperative, in the Mmakau community, received support during the project’s construction phase. A shaded working area was constructed for the co-op, to create a resting space for the women who work in the tough outdoor weather conditions. This shaded area has also created a space for the co-op workers to set-up their machinery, which was donated by other donors.

The overarching focus of the programme is on small and micro enterprises, designed to enhance growth. To deliver on this objective, the establishment of a local resource centre, for use by local SMMEs and communities at large, will support the drive to aid development, and accredited skills training will be provided to start-up businesses.

The 50 MW De Wildt Solar project comprises 169 140 solar modules that draw energy from the intense North West sun, producing enough power to meet the needs of around 84 000 average South African households. The solar plant is expected to feed 123 GWh per year of green electricity into the country’s national power grid, via Eskom’s Zolograph switching station. It is part of government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), which launched a decade ago and has successfully procured over 6.4 GW of independent clean power.

Around 400 people from the local beneficiary communities were directly employed on the project during construction. This is in addition to the employment created through the contracting out of various services.

De Wildt Solar is owned by African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM, a member of Old Mutual Alternative Investments) through its IDEAS Fund, Reatile Solar Power (RF) (Pty) Ltd, Phakwe Solar (RF) (Pty) Ltd, AREP (African Rainbow Energy and Power) and Cicada Community Trust.

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