- There are now strong allegations that the outcome of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) Bid Window 5 was rigged through political interference and possibly corruption.
- The skewed outcome brings into question the role Investec Bank and their renewable energy investment company, Revego Africa Energy Limited (Revego) may have played in the controversy.
Investec is not new to allegations of criminal activity. Recently, they have been named in investigations over their involvement in several of the infamous German “cum-ex” tax scam transactions. Of particular interest to prosecutors in Germany is the case of US pension funds that relied on Investec to make allegedly fraudulent tax claims. The scheme is reported to be the largest tax fraud in history. Read more
Revego, which went on an investor roadshow in early 2021 on the back of a Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listing prospectus, boasted that its three shareholders will invest over R1 billion in Revego when it is listed on the JSE. Reyburn Hendricks, Chief Executive Officer at Revego, said at the time that the vision is much bigger: “The intention is for Revego to gain significant scale, into the tens of billions, and with that growth, diversify across renewable technologies, sponsors, regions, and currencies.”
Hendriks is also the CEO of H1 Holdings. The outcome of Bid Window 5 reveals that 21 of the 25 preferred bidders have the same BBBEE partner in H1 Holdings – Mainstream Renewable Power (12 projects), Scatec (3projects) and EDF (3 projects) and local IPP Red Rocket (3 projects). Did Hendriks know the outcome beforehand?
The markets must have known something was up and did not buy in. Revego doubled down and withdrew its listing application in early May 2021. Read more
Revego has three cornerstone investors, namely Investec, UK Climate Investments (a joint venture between the Green Investment Group and the UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and ironically, the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund. If Revego has invested in any of the Bid Window 5 projects, or any other existing REIPPPP projects (which they have) then a conflict of interest exists as Eskom is the off-taker. Further, the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund may exert undue influence on the Independent Power Producer Office (IPPO).
The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) along with the Independent Power Producer Office (IPPO) is responsible for energy procurement in the country. It appears that both entities have violated their relevant procurement prescripts and criteria. They also appear to have violated section 217 of the Constitution. The country’s competition commission is investigating IPPO in this regard.
Taking a closure look at the outcome of Bid Window 5 there are other standout red alerts:
- One international IPP, Mainstream Renewable Power, won 12 of the 25 projects
- 15 of the 25 projects were won by Norwegian IPP’s.
- The tariffs bided were unsustainably low and not The average weighted price bid for solar comes in at (R) 42.9c kW/h while the average bid for wind is (R) 49.5c kW/h. Industry experts claim that the winning tariffs are too low to be realistic and may be sponsored. Read more
- The majority of the projects who won preferred bidder status were not shovel-ready and had outstanding development works activities including CEL, EIA and other permitting.
Norfund appears to have concentrated its funding exclusively on H1 Holdings. Norfund has also invested in Revego. H1 Holdings has a 16% stake in Revego Fund Managers. Investec has provided a R1.25 billion bridging facility to Revego while Revego recently invested in 360MW of Mainstream/Aker Horizons wind assets in South Africa. Read more
Is there any coincidence then that 15 of the 25 projects were won by a majority of Norwegian-owned IPP’s?
It must also be noted that Mainstream/AKER Horizons were last year embroiled in a major racist incident where their CEO made derogatory statements about Africa. Eddie O’ Conner was forced to resign after saying that ‘Africa’s energy transition was held back by a lack of education in tribal societies‘. To many in South Africa, considering the legacy of the evil apartheid regime and what many fought and died for in the liberation movement, it is incomprehensible that the DMRE/IPPO wants to still do business with Mainstream/AKER Horizons let alone award them 12 projects. Read more
Investec’s Head of Power and Infrastructure Finance, Mr Martin Meyer, declined to respond to questions relating to the tender rigging allegations and instead referred this publication to Brunswick, a leading ‘critical issues’ firm that represents them in ‘external matters’. Brunswick also refused to comment on why Investec has invested in a company whose CEO makes derogatory statements about Africa.
Revego failed to respond to questions while Norfund declined to comment.
Deepening energy crisis
South Africa is in a massive energy crisis. Rotational load shedding is getting worst and the cost to the economy is a massive R950 million a day. According to a report presented by the University of Capetown, if 5GW of renewable energy was rolled out before 2021, the country would not be experiencing load-shedding. Read more
Bid Window 5 projects were awarded at the end of October 2021 and were given a deadline of 31st March 2022 to reach financial close. Not one of the 25 projects was able to reach financial close prompting the country’s energy minister to grant a six-month extension to the end of September 2022. Read more
It is now highly unlikely that the banks and institutional investors will invest in Bid Window 5 projects. The controversy is also likely to cause investors to look for greener pastures.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal