First utility scale commercial and industrial wind farm in South Africa

The ACED-IDEAS-REATILE Consortium has reached financial close with its lender Rand Merchant Bank on the 69MW Msenge Emoyeni Wind Farm. 

This marks the effective date of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between Sasol South Africa Limited (“Sasol”) and Msenge for the supply of renewable energy to Sasol’s Sasolburg site via a wheeling arrangement. The power Sasol is purchasing from Msenge will be used to secure renewable energy supply for green hydrogen production. 

African Clean Energy Developments (“ACED”) represents a consortium of co-sponsors and equity investors consisting of ACED, African Infrastructure Investment Managers (“AIIM”) and Reatile Renewables (Pty) Ltd (“Reatile”). ACED and AIIM are co-sponsors and the equity in Msenge is owned 62% by AIIM, through its flagship IDEAS Fund, and 38% by Reatile. Rand Merchant Bank, a division of FirstRand Bank Limited (“RMB”), has partnered the consortium as sole Mandated Lead Arranger for the project. 

The Msenge Wind Farm is the first utility scale private wind farm in South Africa with its power wheeled across the national electricity grid. It is also the first of several renewables projects that the consortium intends to bring into construction in 2023. ACED is a leading renewable energy developer that has already spearheaded the delivery of more than 1 200MW of renewable energy under the Department of Minerals and Energy’s REIPPPP process and 30MW in the commercial and industrial market. 

The energy will originate from Msenge wind farm, located near the town of Bedford, about 200km North of Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.  The farm was originally developed by Windlab South Africa but has been acquired, further developed and financially closed by ACED and AIIM. ACED will also manage construction and another AIIM affiliate, Energy Infrastructure Management Services (EIMS), will manage operations once construction is complete. 

Aside from needing to resolve the country’s power crisis, the South African government has prioritised the manufacturing of green hydrogen for strategic industrial usage. Sasol, the ACED-IDEAS-Reatile Consortium and Msenge Wind Farm are playing a role in both. Green hydrogen is a key component of a low carbon energy sector which will enable the decarbonisation of critical sectors of South Africa’s economy. Sectors that will benefit include hard-to-abate industries such as transport, refining of metals and cement, heat generation and back-up power supply. 

James Cumming, ACED’s General Manager, highlights: “ACED are very proud to have reached financial close and construction commencement on this much needed South African first, and we look forward to getting to the commercial operation date on Msenge for Sasol. It’s an amazing achievement by a large team of many businesses and advisors, that comes with a huge amount of hard work and sacrifice that we are very grateful for. We look forward to doing more of that in 2023 and beyond!”. 

AIIM Investment Principal Sechaba Selemela noted that the transaction was significant as it represented AIIM’s ongoing commitment to finding alternative energy solutions to South Africa’s current electricity crisis.  

“It also enables South Africa’s transition towards greater energy security based on clean energy production,” Selemela said. 

Through the IDEAS Fund, AIIM has funded projects which together contribute around 25% of the renewable energy currently powering South Africa’s grid and abating higher levels of load shedding on a daily basis. The Fund currently has a renewable energy portfolio valued at more than R 10-billion. 

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Sasol and Air Liquide sign PPAs to supply renewable energy to the Secunda site

Sasol and Air Liquide have signed two Power Purchase Agreements with TotalEnergies and its partner Mulilo, for the long-term supply of a total capacity of 260MW of renewable power to Sasol’s Secunda site, in South Africa, where Air Liquide operates the biggest oxygen production site in the world.

This is the second set of PPAs signed by Sasol and Air Liquide, after the PPAs announced in January. Together, these PPAs represent a total of 480MW of the joint commitment by Sasol and Air Liquide to pursue the procurement of renewable energy. This will significantly contribute to the decarbonisation of the Secunda site.

Within the framework of these agreements with Sasol and Air Liquide, TotalEnergies and Mulilo will create one local majority owned wind project with a capacity of 140MW and one local majority owned solar project with a capacity of 120MW. These projects are scheduled to be operational in 2025. This agreement is subject to regulatory and financial approvals.

“Sasol and Air Liquide have made another giant leap towards our goal of procuring of renewable energy to decarbonise our respective operations at Secunda. This also puts Sasol well on its way to achieving its ambition to procure 1200MW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. The five PPAs that we have signed this year demonstrates the real progress Sasol is making towards its decarbonisation and ultimately, the development of a green economy,” says Priscillah Mabelane, Executive Vice President of Sasol’s Energy Business.

“Sasol’s Renewable Energy Programme, representing one of the largest renewable energy procurement programmes from the private sector in South Africa, is aligned to the government’s REIPPP programme and plays a key role in creating alternative sources of energy to address South Africa’s current energy capacity constraints,” Mabelane added.

In April 2021, Air Liquide and Sasol launched a joint initiative to procure a total of 900 MW of renewable energy for their operations in Secunda, with an allocation of 500 MW to Sasol and 400 MW to Air Liquide. The two companies are negotiating additional PPAs to complete the balance of the renewable energy requested.

Air Liquide acquired Sasol’s 16 oxygen production units in Secunda and has been operating them since June 2021, in the framework of a long-term supply contract with its long-term partner. Including another Air Separation Unit (ASU) it already operated for Sasol, Air Liquide thus now operates a total of 17 ASUs in Secunda, with a total capacity of 47,000 tonnes/day of oxygen.

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Powering local economic development: Dr Dlamini Zuma at the 2022 Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities Convention

Thank you for the opportunity to address this 68th Convention for the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities (AMEU), which you host under the insightful theme of a “Just Energy Transition for South Africa”. 

This gathering is hosted at a time when South Africa has been plunged into darkness with the longest and most rolling blackouts we have ever experienced in our democracy. Indeed, on the one hand demand has increased as we have sought to ensure wall-to-wall energy coverage throughout our country. Villages and townships that had been in the dark for centuries gradually got light and energy.

In 1993 only 36% of households had access to electricity. Today it stands at above 90%. Very few places in the world and on the continent have registered such a rapid pace of electrification at such a relatively short time. Only Egypt (100%), Tunisia (100%), Mauritius (100%), Libya (99,8%), Seychelles (98%), and Cape Verde (96%), currently surpass South Africa’s figures of people with access to electricity. In this regard the challenge we face is now bringing electricity to the close to 6 million South Africans who remain in darkness. We must achieve that goal while having to ensure consistent and reliable energy to those that have access.

With regards to the latter, a study conducted by Afro Barometer, shows that only 5% of South Africans were satisfied in relation to electricity services provided. This study was undertaken in 2016, long before the current rolling blackouts phenomenon, thus it is not only indicative of frequency but also quality of service. I am sure, given our current experiences, the 8th edition of the study, which is to be completed later this year, will have a far more damning picture. For those millions who do not have access or experience energy supply in a sporadic manner the issue is quality and consistent access to energy, by any means possible or necessary.

Certainly, this has been the case even in developed nations in the world, that is why they remain the biggest carbon emitters, it is not only the green they pursue but they remain committed to serving the interest of their people, above all. This has been seen by the return to fossil-based energy in places such as the EU, with the cutting of supply lines from Russia because of heightening hostilities in the Ukraine. Therefore, we must never forget that about 80% of our energy is generated through fossil fuels with coal making about 26% of that. Currently over 80 000 are employed in the coal mining sector and five companies (Anglo Coal, BHP Billiton/ South32/SAEC, Sasol, Exxaro and Xstrata) account for over 80% of coal capacity.

This in itself poses a danger, but more importantly is that the sector lost over 10 000 jobs over the last ten years, partially as result of an overemphasis on the move away from coal to other sources. That overemphasis and loss has particularly affected the economies of four municipalities in Mpumalanga, that of eMalahleni, Steve Tshwete, Govan Mbeki and Msukaligwa, where 76% of all coal workers are employed.

Despite these job losses the level of absorption of the workers in the renewable energy sector has not been good. As the renewable sector requires a slightly higher level of skills and over 81% of coal mine workers have matric or less.

These coal workers therefore make a very small portion of the 28 000 employed in the sector, which incidentally is also 45% of the continent’s renewable energy workforce. We must also take into consideration that our energy demands going forward are likely to double by 2050. Therefore, to mitigate the possibility of a greater energy crisis, rather than disinvesting in coal, we must place greater emphasis on researching and investing on getting cleaner and more efficient coal-based technologies and solutions. Even France and Netherlands which are considered amongst the most energy efficient countries in the world, utilise nuclear and fossils at the core of their energy generation mix.

We have no choice but to find the appropriate energy mix that will give us the most just of transitions. Thankfully in this room, on this platform and beyond, we have the critical minds that can assist us in exploring that critical mix, as well as new and innovative means of producing and consistent energy. For example, I recently came across gravitational energy technologies, that utilise one of the oldest known sources of kinetics, to consistently supply the grids. These could complement the work we have begun on other renewable sources such as biomass, solar, wind and wave technologies, all of which only generates 27% of the world’s energy. Fortunately, virtually all renewable and recyclable energy sources are in abundance in South Africa and Southern Africa, especially in the rural areas.

This presents a new frontier and potential niche, which is a window of opportunity for the country and continent, which we must capitalise on. In exploring that frontier, we have the duty to also find ways to make those alternative energy sources more efficient and affordable. Currently, these energy sources have a relatively lower financial return on investment, as well as, intermittency, high material input, low energy density, short lifetime, and recycling challenges.

In charting the path towards an appropriate energy mix and a just energy supply we require more and not less state. Everywhere in the world, it is the state that drives generation and distribution towards the social goals such as education, rural development, health, and recreation. Take for instance in Tunisia, the State Power Utility Company, STEG, controls 91,7% of the country’s installed power production capacity and produces 84% of the electricity. Even in the most capitalist of countries, it is the state that issues conditional licensing for private generation and distribution, which is tied to social outcomes. Often it is the local state that takes this licensing responsibility, if it does not produce itself.

For instance, despite American penchant for capitalism the most used instruments for distribution are not for profit cooperatives or municipalities, which removes the profit element. These Municipal or community utilities are owned and operated by the local or community bodies to provide a range of services such as water, gas, internet, telephone services, garbage removal and banking.

This is not a new idea. Los Angeles has had a publicly owned utilities company for over 100 years, and 1 in 7 Americans are served by such a utility company. The American Public Power Association, which is your counterpart there, makes a strong case on how “not for profit, community owned locally controlled” utilities provide better services at lower rates than privately owned utilities while also providing jobs and revenue for their local communities.

The Association further says, “residential customers of public power utilities pay monthly bills that are on average 4% less than customers of investors – owned utilities, and 16% less than customers of cooperative utilities”. It goes on to say “public power utilities also deliver more reliable electric service. Outside of major adverse events (e.g., storms), customers of a public power utility are likely to be without power for less time – 62 minutes a year, compared to 150 minutes a year for customers of private utilities.

These Municipal and community utilities are important in powering local economic development, as they can be more responsive to local needs whilst supporting the local revenue base as well as local organisations and businesses. Of course, our problem with regards to ownership in South Africa, is not the private, but the drive to unjustifiably privatise the already uncompetitive, pricey, and monopolistic public entity. Even as the unbundling is being planned, it is planned with private owners in mind, and not with the most logical and more social justice prone municipal and community/cooperative models in mind.

We must therefore pay attention to the specific challenges which have not enabled our municipalities and their entities to position themselves as Independent Power Producers (IPPs). A study recently undertaken by Sustainable Energy Africa, found that only 50% of our municipalities are equipped with any form of Small-Scale Embedded Generation processes. A further 25% do not have the internal capacity to establish or manage these processes, while the remaining 25% are not in a state to handle any additional responsibilities owing to governance and financial challenges. Thus, we should not just theorise and speak of the research, but we must find ways to establish the capacities to develop and maintain the energy infrastructure capabilities of all municipalities.

This association has the duty not just to analyse the state of our infrastructure but needs to roll up sleeves and get to work in solving them. And assisting all of us to understand what needs to be done. Let those municipalities and utilities doing better to support those that are not performing as well. We must be also deliberate and practical in our actions as this association.

Therefore, I wish to challenge the association with assisting the municipalities of OR Tambo, Alfred Nzo, Ugu and Harry Gwala, in Eastern Cape and KZN, to plan and deliver on their energy potential and promises. I choose these localities because this is the site of the newly Gazetted Eastern Seaboard Region which includes a Polycentric African Coastal City.

Already, the President has launched the project last November and there is national steering team which includes all the spheres of governments with 16 Departments and 7 State Owned Entities. I wish to invite the Association to join these planners and implementors as they consider how and when to unlock the close to 5million megawatts potential that can support the city and country.

Programme Director, as we propose the communal and municipal ownership, we must maintain certain national norms and standards which will ensure better education, health, recreational, cultural, and economic outcomes. We must also remember that ours is a unitary state which functions through the cooperation of all spheres and entities of government and collective governance. We must therefore maintain reasonable costs and reliability, which must be observed throughout the country. We must also remain cognisant of the fact that a sustainable and clean energy transition must be underpinned by economic justice.

Therefore, it is up to this convention to place back the just in our discussions with regards to energy provision and distribution. In reality, electricity and energy have become a right in themselves, for it can influence the level of access citizens have to the other rights. This became gapingly clear during the recent Covid-19 Pandemic where the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), found that school children had lost 54% of learning time because of the pandemic and some 400 000 to 500 000 leaners had reportedly dropped out.

No doubt most of those children are those who come from poorer backgrounds, with no access to consistent electricity and ICT. Some would have had to leave school to find work, because of the loss of the main bread winner. Therefore, there can be no doubt of the relationship between electricity and development. Landing by plane at night in a more well lit up town or city tells you the level of development in that society.

Electricity significantly contributes to the improvement of human lives. In addition to its positive social effects, electricity stimulates the economy. The economic growth and development process is powered by energy. Without energy, development is impossible. Access to electricity in South Africa, as with access to other basic services such as housing, education and water is paralleled by high levels of poverty and socio-economic inequality.

We must therefore work together as part of the District Development Model to deal with the challenges we are facing and to embrace the energy revolution. Let us work together, to be customer centric and service orientated. Let us try harder to maintain the current infrastructure.

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Sasol becomes a signatory of Operation Clean Sweep

Sasol has become the first raw material supplier to the South African plastics industry to become a signatory of Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) – an international stewardship programme designed to prevent resin pellet, flake, and powder loss and help keep this material out of the marine environment.  Sasol is committed to providing chemicals and energy in a responsible way and respecting the environment by continually improving performance to minimise and avoid adverse impacts.

Plastics|SA is the licensee and project coordinator for OCS in South Africa’s plastics industry.  As a signatory of the “Joint declaration for solutions to the problem of marine litter” which took place during the 5th International Conference on Marine Debris, held in Honolulu in 2011, it joined the international plastics community’s commitment to address the issue of plastics in the marine environment. 

Douw Steyn, Sustainability Director at Plastics|SA says spilled pellets, flakes and powder can make their way into local waterways and ultimately estuaries and the ocean. “This isn’t just an eyesore and a litter issue. Pellets, flakes and powder can be mistaken for food by birds or marine animals, and could harm them if ingested,” he explains.

As part of their plan of action to implement OCS in South Africa, Plastics|SA has developed a detailed toolkit and a manual that contains guidelines to help plastics industry operations managers reduce the accidental loss of pellets, flakes and powder from the manufacturing facility into the environment. To date, more than 9 local companies, as well as the PRO’s (Producer Responsibility Organisations) such as PETCO, Polyco, the Southern African Vinyls Association and Polystyrene Association of SA have taken the OCS pledge on behalf of their members and agreed to the following six commitments in order to establish / demonstrable environmentally responsible processes:

  1. Improving worksite set-up to prevent and address spills
  2. Creating and publishing internal procedures to achieve zero operations plastic material loss
  3. Providing employee training and accountability for spill prevention, containment, clean-up and disposal
  4. Auditing performance regularly
  5. Complying with all applicable state and local regulations governing operations plastics waste containment and management
  6. Encouraging value chain partners (contractors, transporters, distributors, etc.) to pursue the same goals.

Sasol as a responsible polymer producer aims to join other companies along the plastics value chain in ensuring that polymer pellets are manufactured, transported and stored responsibly until it is converted into the final product, says Bernard Klingenberg, Executive Director of Sasol.

“Through OCS Sasol will further minimise our environmental footprint by ensuring that our polymer is managed responsibly throughout the manufacturing life cycle stages to prevent any release into the environment.”

Bernard Klingenberg, Executive Director of Sasol

“We have conducted internal assessments at our South African production sites and implemented improvements which include reinforcing good housekeeping practices, employee awareness, and implementation of screens on drains.  In addition, Sasol is in the process of engaging with supply chain partners to assist them where necessary in adopting these important practices”, says Klingenberg.

Leading up to the signing of the OCS Pledge Sasol undertook various activities towards becoming an OS member which include education and awareness sessions, production facility audits, and conducted self-assessments questionnaires along Sasol’s supply chain. 

Plastics | SA is highly appreciative of these results and the commitment shown by Sasol to OCS to prevent resin pellet, flake, and powder loss and help keep this material out of the marine environment and welcomes Sasol as the first raw material supplier as a signatory of OCS in South Africa.

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Sasol invites bidders for the development of two 10MW Solar PV facilities

Sasol has invited interested bidders to participate in a Request for Proposals (RFPs) process for the development of two embedded 10MW Solar Photo-Voltaic (PV) facilities at its South African operations. These areas included will be Secunda, Mpumalanga and Sasolburg, Free State. This forms part of its response to climate change. 

The closing date for submissions is Friday, 02 October 2020.

The Sasol Chief Sustainability Officer, Hermann Wenhold expressed the company’s excitement at the launch of the RFP. The development has become part of Sasol’s first step towards realising its commitment and objective to eventually procure 600MW of renewable energy capacity. 

“We are excited to launch the RFP which forms part of our broader Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction aspiration and moves us forward on our journey to achieving our target of a 10% GHG emission reduction by 2030,” Wenhold said. 

The process began in May this year when Sasol invited bidders to participate in the Request for Information (RFI) process for the supply of renewable energy. 

The successful bidders will have to design, finance, construct, operate, maintain and own the Solar PV facilities and their associated connection infrastructure to supply 10MW of power to each of Sasol’s operations at their own cost. They will also be expected to supply electricity from the Solar PV facilities as Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to Sasol as part of a long-term Power Purchase Agreement. 

Interested Bidders may apply for access to the RFP by forwarding their company profile together with contact details to

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