Renewable energy industrial and logistics processes company GRI Renewable Industries in November opened a new R300-million wind-turbine tower production factory in Atlantis, Cape Town.
“With South Africa currently in the grip of debilitating rolling black-outs and load shedding owing to State-owned power utility Eskom’s power grid being stretched to capacity, it comes as a ray of light that GRI has opened the factory,” says GRI Renewable Industries CEO Javier Imaz.
South Africa's steady economic growth and focus on industrialisation, together with its mass electrification programme has seen a steep increase in the demand for electricity, “to the point where the country’s energy demand is expected to double by 2030”, he says.
The new wind-turbine tower production factory “offers South Africa a giant leap forward in the provision of renewable energy alternatives with the facility capable of producing 150 wind towers a year,” says Imaz, adding that the investment demonstrates GRI’s long-term commitment to South Africa and the fact that the company is open for business and willing to partner local enterprises to develop sustainable wind energy facilities in South Africa.
The 12 000 m² factory is situated in the Green Technology Industrial Park in Atlantis. “It will help propel South Africa into the renewable energy market, with more investment planned for the future,” says Imaz.
The facility integrates the use of energy saving technologies designed to make use of the benefits of natural lighting and ventilation. The factory, which is 350 m long, has custom-designed storage space, allowing each completed tower section to be stored on site.
“Each section can weigh up to 90 t, and measure 38 m in length, and 5 m in diameter. In addition, there is permanently installed logistic machinery to move and load the completed sections,” he notes.
The company hopes to reach full production volume in 18 months, and in the process will develop a highly skilled and motivated workforce, “contributing towards sustainable and responsible power generation”, says Imaz.
He adds that the project will create 200 permanent jobs, with new skills being taught to those who form part of the labour at the factory. Local and overseas experts will invest in identifying and training the new labour force and upskilling the workers to be able to perform their jobs to the highest standards.
“Not only will this investment offer a realistic solution to the current fragile power situation, but we will be deploying and sharing our know-how with the local market and, at the same time, generating additional job creation opportunities. Therefore, we see a bright future for South African-developed renewable energy, both locally and also in Africa,” Imaz concludes.