Pele Energy Group, a leading, African IPP (Independent Power Producer) head quartered in South Africa, has extensive experience in the implementation of sustainability solutions.
PELE provides renewable energy solutions directly to its large-scale intensive energy user clients, which is sometimes executed through what is termed a bi-lateral “Wheeling” arrangement. Wheeling is a method of delivering energy from a remote power plant to a single user, via the nation’s (or a third party’s) transmission network. Wheeling presents an alternative solution to expanding access to renewable energy because it removes geographic location-based boundaries.
Companies who have made commitments towards carbon neutrality by 2050 or sooner, should ideally procure and invest in clean energy sources. Yet being in a geographic location that is not conducive to renewable energy production, limits their ability to achieve these commitments. Wheeling eliminates these location-based boundaries and provides a multi-stakeholder beneficial solution. Through wheeling companies may indirectly support development of clean energy sources and be a strategic contributor to the Just Energy Transition.
Company benefits, when entering wheeling arrangements, are not simply about securing clean energy supply and fulfilling commitments towards carbon neutrality. Companies may also lower their energy costs and improve their contributions towards community development throughout the country.
Wheeling benefits communities through job creation where the renewable energy project is located, like skills development initiatives, that improve the employability of locals. Economic Development initiatives that ensure structural change occur within those communities, so they become independent. There is a reduced environmental impact in energy generation which further positively impacts public health.
The regulatory framework has been enabling for wheeling since NERSA (National Energy Regulator of South Africa) made changes to their generation license by raising the threshold from 1MW to 100MW. This policy change reduces the amount of regulatory burden for renewable energy projects in South Africa. Thus, making it easier for companies to initiate renewable energy usage. Companies are now in a greater position to secure clean energy supply and uplift communities whilst increasing productivity and achieving carbon neutrality.
Although wheeling increases access to renewable energy, it is not without limits in terms of being a complete power supply solution. Wheeling, when combined with a BESS (Battery Energy Storage Systems) solution, provides a holistic sustainability solution. Where wheeling on its own is still vulnerable to restricted grid availability during load shedding, the incorporation a BESS allows for certain power security. Furthermore, the implementation of wheeling and BESS can facilitate full renewable energy usage even during times of no production from the renewable power plant, and better aligns with carbon neutrality objectives. The landscape in BESS has been a particularly transient environment over the last five years, where the latest, most beneficial, and cost-effective technology has been in constant flux. The outlook for battery technology is one that remains variable, however maturity in the industry and its offering, now more than ever, allows for the use of these systems with minimal technology risk whilst still meeting financial feasibility requirements.
Mogalakwena Solar PV is one of multiple wheeling projects by the PELE group of companies. Mogalakwena is a consortium owned 100MW Solar PV plant in which 10% of the project is owned by the community. This project was made possible through the use of wheeling, where it was developed for a large-scale energy intensive user who wanted to decarbonise and secure renewable energy supply. The project is still under construction and once completed, will provide numerous benefits to all stakeholders involved.
The project does not have a BESS, where at the time of the project’s inception, battery technologies and offerings were still relatively high risk. However, as a constantly evolving industry, future phases for this project and many of the other wheeling based projects undertaken by PELE will look to incorporate BESS.