Cennergi, the renewable energy division of mining giant Exxaro Resources, has announced that it received the registration for its 80MW Lephalale Solar Project (LSP) from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). The project was among the 16 projects that NERSA registered earlier this month.
The solar energy project is the first phase of Exxaro’s decarbonisation strategy for its flagship Grootegeluk mine at Lephalale in Limpopo province.
Roland Tatnall, Cennergi’s Managing Director expressed excitement on the registration of the project saying the facility once completed will play a key role in accelerating Exxaro’s target of carbon neutrality by 2050.
“The team worked incredibly hard to ensure LSP was one of the first large renewable energy projects to receive registration through the streamlined NERSA process in a record time of 47 days,” said Tatnall.
“Following the announcement of our renewable energy strategy to the market in September 2021, we have developed a significant pipeline of multi-technology (wind, solar and storage) solutions that will provide decarbonisation, energy security and cost reduction benefits to Exxaro and other private customers,” Tatnall adds.
“In line with the memorandum of understanding we executed with Eskom last year, we are advancing a comprehensive renewable energy solution for Exxaro’s presence in Mpumalanga which we hope will provide a blueprint for the Just Energy Transition in the province,” concludes Tatnall.
Lephalale solar project to reduce Exxaro’s emissions
A long-term power purchase agreement will govern the sale of electricity between Cennergi and the Grootegeluk Complex. The Lephalale solar project has been fast-tracked to enable a reduction of up to a third of the mine’s Scope 2 emissions and significant electricity cost savings but is only the first phase of a multi-technology solution designed specifically for the mine’s demand profile. Subsequent phases including storage and wheeled wind are at an advanced stage of development.
Exxaro commenced its renewable energy journey in 2009 when it initiated the development of a wind project in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. This culminated in the establishment of Cennergi (Pty) Ltd alongside Tata Power in 2012. Exxaro then acquired Cennergi (Pty) Ltd outright in 2020 in order to accelerate its diversification into renewable energy. The Cennergi group subsequently became one of the largest locally-owned independent power producers (IPP) and asset managers in South Africa.
Cennergi has two operating wind projects in the Eastern Cape totalling 229MW which sell renewable electricity to Eskom through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) and manages a further nine distributed solar projects developed in 2018 that provide renewable electricity to communities across South Africa.