Some three years after expanding operations into South Africa, Italian renewable energy firm Enel Green Power (EGP) has established a significant presence locally, boasting more than 520 MW of wind and solar projects in operation, one of which was declared a National Key Point in June.
The 66 MW Tom Burke photovoltaic power (PV) plant, in Limpopo, where Enel hosted a dedication ceremony on Wednesday for one of its first large-scale solar projects, feeds 122 GWh/y into the national grid and is supplying electricity to nine villages in the Lephalale region.
“By harnessing renewable energy sources, we can improve electrification in Southern Africa and incorporate current and available technologies to bridge the gap between supply and demand for energy in a sustainable way,” said Enel country manager William Price on Wednesday.
This followed the early generation and commissioning of the plant on a 202 ha property in August 2016, adding “significant” value to the region and country, after being built by more than 400 construction workers in less than two years – a record for the company.
At its peak, Enel constructed some 1 MW a day on the project.
By June this year, Tom Burke became the first Enel South Africa facility to be declared a National Key Point by the South African Police Service and now produces an average energy output of 350 MWh/d to 360 MWh/d.
Speaking to media prior to the event, Price said Tom Burke became the setting for the company’s first use of thin-film solar technology in a large-scale project and set the precedent for Enel’s future endeavours.
Enel had first used the thin-film technology at its 10 MW Upington solar plant before pursuing its deployment in larger projects.
Tom Burke had also set the standard for the company, with its well-executed progression, best practices and approaches now being emulated at many more of Enel’s projects moving forward.
Meanwhile, Enel was working to implement several community initiative projects to leave behind a sustainable positive mark on the communities hosting the plant.
“We do not just produce energy, we change communities,” Enel sustainability head Lizeka Dlepu told delegates at the dedication ceremony.
She highlighted the company’s dedicated steering committee that was strategising with the local communities to identify shared value that addresses and aligns local social needs with the company’s business objectives.
Tom Burke has a 20-year power supply agreement with State-owned power utility Eskom, as part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.
EGP owns and operates five PV plants in South Africa, namely Tom Burke; the 82.5 MW Paleisheuwel project, in the Western Cape; the 10 MW Upington and 82.5 MW Adams projects, in the Northern Cape; and Pulida, an 82.5 MW plant in the Free State.
The company also operates the 88 MW Nojoli and the 111 MW Gibson Bay wind farms, in the Eastern Cape.