By Toyin Akinosho
French owned EDF Renewables was absent from our list of the biggest developers of renewable energy projects in Africa, in our first time out in March 2021.
So was TOTALEren.
True, we were spot on for listing Scatec, the Norwegian firm; ACWA, the aggressive Saudi government owned developer; Lekela Power, the British vehicle; ENEL, the Italian player and ENGIE the French company, among the continent’s top 10.
It would seem, however, that our 2022 list should include EDF Renewables, if only as a nod to its recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the mining giant Anglo American, geared towards developing 3,000-5,000 MW of renewable electricity (solar and wind) and storage in Anglo American’s facility in South Africa over the next decade. This (proposed) massive project, aiming to construct a regional renewable energy ecosystem (RREE) in the country, is the type that increases total grid supply resilience.
TOTALEren also looks a good candidate for Africa’s top 10 renewable developers. It has recently been named the key partner in a proposed 432MW wind/solar project on First Quantum Minerals (FQM)’s mining operations in Zambia.
But these projects have only just shown up on the drawing board. They are neither in advanced state of development, let alone under heavy construction. So let us turn our gaze to actual operations and determine who still merits our distinguished list.
When we conceived this listing, we were content with highlighting those companies who have been involved in solar or wind projects in excess of 75MW capacity, either singly or collectively, in Africa.
True, 75MW is a high number for a renewable power project. But despite the fact that grid sized single projects in Africa remain largely between 50MW and 100MW, several of the active developers in the region are increasingly having total portfolio in excess of 1,500MW under their belts, for Africa alone.
Scatec has doubled its power output worldwide since our last ranking, but its core market consists of six countries which include two African nations: Egypt and South Africa. “The common denominators for these markets”, Scatec says, “are a strong and growing demand for power to support economic development, a carbon-intensive power sector that is ripe for low-carbon alternatives, and a regulatory framework that seeks international capital for the renewables targets to be achieved”.
In terms of Plants- in- operations, Scatec has a total of 448MW Solar renewable energy plant capacity in South Africa, of which its economic interest is 45%; 380MW (Solar) in Egypt’s Benban solar park, with 51% equity and 225MW (Solar) output capacity in Uganda, where it holds 28% economic interest. Mozambique surprisingly shows up on the Scatec’s plants-in-operations list, with 40MW solar powered generation capacity, of which 53% is Scatec’s share. In Rwanda, Scatec built a 9MW capacity plant in which 54% is its own economic interest.
Scatec has a backlog of projects totaling 813MW generation capacity in South Africa, with economic interest of 51%, on average; in Tunisia, the backlog is 360MW and the company’s share is 55%. Scatec also has backlogs of 33MW solar power project in Mali and 20MW solar power project in Lesotho, of which its economic interests are 64 % and 48% respectively.
Scatec has announced partnership with Fertiglobe, Orascom and Sovereign Fund of Egypt to develop a 100 MW green hydrogen facility in that country. The hydrogen will be used as feedstock for green ammonia production and sold under a long-term contract to EBIC, a subsidiary of Fertiglobe. It is also developing a large-scale green ammonia production facility with Suez Canal Zone and the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy.
Lekela Power, created by the British investor Actis, commenced commercial operation at its 252MW West Bakr Wind farm, a Build Own Operate (BOO) project located in the Gulf of Suez in Egypt, in November 2021. The company developed the 158MW Wind Farm, Taiba N’Diaye, Senegal’s first utility-scale wind farm, which it commissioned from 2019 to 2020. Lekela says it is investing up to $20Million in community development efforts over the plant’s projected 20-year lifespan. Lekela had earlier delivered the 140MW Loeriesfontein 2 in the Hantam Municipality in South Africa’s Northern Cape in 2015; commissioned the 80MW Noupoort Wind Farm in the same country in 2016 and completed the Khobab Wind Farm in December 2017, also in South Africa. These projects were contracted under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPP). Since 2018, Lekela has completed the 110 MW Perdekraal East Wind Farm in South Africa’s Western Cape and the 140MW Kangnas Wind Farm in the Nama Khoi Local Municipality in the country’s Northern Cape.
Coming along is Lekela’s Ayitepa wind project, located on the south eastern coastal region of Ghana. It is in an advanced stage of development and working towards financial close, after which construction is expected to take about 18 months. The project will begin with 150 MW, with the potential to add a further 75 MW.
ACWA POWER (Arabian Company for Water and Power Development) came to international prominence in 2012, when it was announced in both Morocco and South Africa as preferred bidder in a key solar project in each country. Morocco is clearly the heartland of the company’s African operations. In 2014, ACWA acquired a controlling stake in the Khalladi 120 MW Wind Farm in the north of the Kingdom. It’s an Independent Power Project IPP that had been developed by UPC Renewables. In 2016, ACWA commissioned the 160 MW NOORo I Concentrated Solar Power (IPP) Plant, with 73.1% interest in the kingdom. In 2018, ACWA completed the 200 MW NOORo II CSP Project, developed as the second project for Morocco’s Energy Agency (MASEN) in the series of planned developments at the Ouarzazate Solar Complex, a 500 MW solar park incorporating several utility-scale solar power plants using various solar technologies. ACWA has since completed NOORo III CSP , the 150 MW capacity third solar facility on the Quarzite complex.
ACWA inaugurated its first South African project in 2016. It was the 50MW Bokpoort CSP Independent Power Project, located in the Northern Cape Province.
In Egypt in 2022, ACWA expects to complete and inaugurate the 200MW Kom Ombo photovoltaic (PV) plant (officially titled 1 x 200 MW KOM OMBO Solar PV Power Project) for which it signed a Power Purchase Agreement with the government in 2019. And ACWA is about to grow bigger in Egypt. The second largest of the five projects under “advance development” in ACWA’s global portfolio is a 1,1500MW wind IPP in North Africa’s largest economy.
In South Africa, ACWA announced, on May 10, 2021, the achievement of financial close for Redstone 100 CSP IPP, which it won, with Solar Reserve, as part of the country’s 2015 tenders for renewable projects. Commercial operations are expected to commence in Q4 2023.
SOUTH AFRICA CONTINUES TO be both the breeding ground of startup renewable energy firms and the playground of large, multinational developers.
The ENEL group, an outgrowth of the Italian energy utility, operates in the renewable energy space as ENEL GREEN POWER (EGP). The company has 15 plants, both wind and solar, on the African continent. “Our installed renewable capacity (in Africa) is around 1.2 GW”, it says. Most of EGP’s renewable generating plants are in South Africa.
The 140MW Nxuba Wind Farm in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, completed in December 2020, is one of the latest.
The company’s other completed projects include the 88 MW Nojoli Wind Power plant in the Eastern Cape province (2016) and the 111 MW Gibson Bay Wind Farm also in the Eastern Cape. It is operating the 147MW Oyster Bay Wind Farm; the 145MW Garob Wind Farm and the 82.5MW Adams Aurora Solar plant. ENEL has constructed the 82.5 MW Pulida solar power plant in the country’s Free State, the 66 MW Tom Burke Solar Power plant in Limpopo Province and the 82.5 MW Paleishuewel Solar Plant in the Western Cape. EGP has announced a joint-venture partnership with the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), aimed at financing, building and operating renewable energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa. In a first phase, QIA will acquire 50% of EGP’s stake in 800MW of projects in operation and under construction in South Africa and Zambia. ENEL said the JV would combine its industrial expertise with QIA’s long-term investment strategy, in line with the two companies’ sustainability and decarbonisation targets. ENEL is developing the Karusa and Soetwater Wind Farms, each with an installed capacity of 140MW, in the Karoo Hoogland District, Northern Cape province, yet to be completed. In Morocco, the 210MW Midelt wind farm, also under development, is the first power plant of the 850 MW Projet Éolien Intégré, a joint venture between EGP and Nareva, secured after the award of an international tender.
.ENGIE, formed in 2008 through the merger of Gaz de France and Suez, is credited with construction and operation of Africa’s largest single wind farm to date: the 300MW Tarfaya Wind Farm in Morocco. ENGIE commissioned the 100MW Kathu Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project, in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province on January 30, 2019. The ENGIE /Toyota Tusho/Orascom partnership developed the 262.5 MW Ras Ghareb Wind Farm project near the Gulf of Suez in Egypt, in December 2019. It was the country’s first project in wind energy to operationalize the Build-Own-Operate (BOO) model.
In Tunisia in 2020, ENGIE and (local operator) Nareva were jointly awarded a 120MW solar independent power producer (IPP) project. The Gafsa plant, a solar PV facility, will supply power to more than 100,000 homes in that North African country. In Senegal, ENGIE is starting construction of two 30 MW solar PV projects. The company has also signed an agreement with the government of Djibouti to build a 30 MW solar PV project there in partnership with Électricité de Djibouti.
African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) developed the 139MW Cookhouse Wind Farm in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. Commissioned in December 2014, it was the first project in the first round of the South Africa’s Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP). AIIM thereafter acquired, in 2018, majority stakes in nine renewable energy projects that were proposed to contribute 800 MW to the national grid. Through its IDEAS Managed Fund, AIIM acquired a 50.1% stake in each of the following solar and wind projects: Bokamoso – 67.9MW, Waterloo – 75MW, Droogfontein II – 75MW, Zeerust – 75MW, Greefspan II – 55MW, De Wiltd – 50 MW, Roggeveld – 147MW, Perdekraal – 110MW, Kangas – 140MW.
BioTherm Energy developed the 117.2 MW Golden Valley Wind Farm, commissioned in June 2019, in the Amathole Municipality in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. In January 2021, the company finished constructing 100MW Kipeto Wind Farm in Kenya. Biotherm Energy was established in 2003 and in 2008, was supported with $150Million by the private equity firm Denham Capital. BioTherm has its sights on projects in 10 countries in Africa.
TOTALEren built and operates a 126MW solar plant in Egypt; a 15MW solar plant in Burkina Faso and 10MW solar plant in Uganda. A proposed 423MW solar plant in Zambia, for which it has been named as builder, is in discussion.
Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy S.A. (formerly Gamesa Corporación Tecnológica S.A), a German/Spanish power company, is a large electricity provider, with 107,000MW capacity worldwide. It is known as a contractor (construction and maintenance) as well as a developer. It constructed the 262.5 MW Ras Ghareb Wind Farm project developed by the ENGIE /Toyota Tusho/Orascom partnership in Egypt’s Gulf of Suez. It is maintaining the farm, but not as an investor. Siemens Gamesa’s heartland in Africa is Egypt. Before the Ras Ghareb project, the company had installed four wind farms counting 406 MW with a total of 478 turbines of G52 type with a nominal power capacity of 850KW each. This compound of wind farms was delivered to Egypt’s New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA). Siemens Gamesa also delivered the 220MW Gulf El Zayt Wind Power Plant Project on the Red Sea coast, with funding from JICA (The Japan International Cooperation Agency). The company completed, in the same country, a 40 MW extension to an already installed wind farm in Gulf El Zayt for NREA funded by KFW (Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau). Hired by the Ethiopian Electric Power, Siemens Gamesa is constructing a 100MW Wind Farm in Assela in Ethiopia’s south western region. Siemens Gamesa did not construct the 110MW Perdekraal East and 140 MW Kangnas wind farms in South Africa, but it will run and maintain them.
Abengoa Solar International, a Spanish energy developer has, between 2015 and 2019, commissioned three 100MW solar power plants each on three locations in South Africa. The 100MW Kaxu Solar One (concentrated solar power (CSP)) Plant was commissioned in February 2015; the 100MW Khi Solar One was commissioned in March 2016 and the Xina Solar One was commissioned in August 2017. Although they are each jointly owned with other partners, they were all developed and constructed and now operated and maintained by Abengoa Solar International.
EDF Renewables currently operates four wind farms across South Africa (144 MW installed capacity), including the Wesley wind farm (33 MW) in the former Ciskei area of the Eastern Cape, commissioned in August 2021. But that’s all there is in operations. It however has added a number of backlogs. In March 2021, In March 2021, it won, in consortium with its partner Perpetua Holding, the Umoyilanga project in the Risk Mitigation IPP Procurement Programme (RMI4P), which combines solar, wind and battery storage technologies, comprising a 77 MW wind farm on the coast in the south of the country, a 138 MW solar power plant in the Northern Cape region. Both power plants will be equipped with a battery storage system totaling 75 MW of power. In September 2021, it won the contract to build and operate a 100 MW power plant at the Mogalakwena platinum mine, in the country’s Limpopo province. It has Adding up the new projects won in 2021, EDF Renewables says it holds almost 880 MW in total in its portfolio of renewable energy in South Africa.
Mainstream Renewable doesn’t own any renewable plant in Africa. But it has constructed sizeable plants for “owners” like Lekela. The 110MW Perdekraal East and 140 MW Kangnas wind farms in South Africa were constructed for the Lekela consortium by Mainstream Renewable. Siemens Gamesa supplied the technology and it is running and maintaining the plants.
Solar Reserve commissioned a 75MW Jasper Solar Plant in South Africa’s Northern Cape province in 2014. Rainmaker Energy commissioned the 100MW Dorper Wind Farm in 2014. Acciona Energia commissioned the 138MW Gouda Wind Farm in the Western Cape Province of South Africa in 2015. The company operates and maintains the plant. Cennergi commissioned the 134MW Amakhala Emoyeni Wind Farm project in June 2016. The plant is 95% owned by Cennergi. Mulilo commissioned a 75MW Solar plant in Copperton, in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province in 2016. The Longyuan Mulilo consortium commissioned the 96.48 MW De Aar and the 138.96 MW De Aar 2 North wind projects in November 2017. Emvelo co-developed, with IDCSA the 100MW Karoshoek power plant, 30 km east of Upington. In the Northern Cape Province, commissioned in November 2018.