- Richard’s Bay Minerals (RBM) will be supplied with renewable solar power through an agreement with international energy company Voltalia and local Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) partners, for its operation in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
- Under the agreement, Voltalia will begin construction of the 148MW Bolobedu Solar PV renewable energy project in 2023, at a site in the province of Limpopo.
- The power plant is scheduled to be complete by 2024 and will deliver an annual generation capacity of up to 300GWh.
- It will feed into the national power grid to supply RBM’s smelting and processing facilities through a wheeling agreement.
The renewable power supply is expected to cut RBM’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10 per cent1, or 237kt CO2e per year.
The news follows an announcement earlier this week of a partnership between EDF Renewables and Anglo American who have formed Envusa Energy licking off 600MW of solar and wind projects in South Africa. Read more
Rio Tinto Minerals Chief Executive Sinead Kaufman said: “The agreement, which is a first step towards reducing RBM’s carbon emissions, is a major milestone and one that is in line with Rio Tinto’s decarbonisation strategy. As this solar energy project progresses, we will continue exploring additional renewable solutions that further reduce our emissions in South Africa and make Richards Bay Minerals a contributor to our net zero commitment.”
Voltalia CEO Sébastien Clerc said: “We are very pleased to support RBM in its decarbonisation journey. The Bolobedu photovoltaic power plant will be our biggest project in Africa, after performing construction of a series of other solar plants for us or for clients, in the continent (Zimbabwe, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritania and Egypt). This project is the first of our South African large solar-and-wind portfolio under development, in areas with grid connection available, that will be ready to support our clients to overpass the actual energy crisis with affordable, clean and stable electricity.”
The electricity will be generated by Voltalia’s Bolobedu site, a 148 megawatt solar plant to be built in the Limpopo province in north-eastern South Africa. The power plant will benefit from the region’s good solar conditions and grid availability. It will generate green electricity for a volume equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of more than 425 000 inhabitants. Voltalia will ensure the development, construction and operation of the plant. It is expected to begin generating in 2024.
The project will also provide skills development opportunities for members of the surrounding communities, and a bursary programme for young local learners. In support of South Africa’s growing renewable energy sector value chain, Voltalia will work to source its goods and services locally.
The Bolobedu Solar PV power plant will be 51% black-owned through BEE partners, with a minimum 10% stake going to black women, while the host community will also have a participation.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal