Coega: Positioned for renewable energy

The Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) is well on its way to become a critical hub for the emerging renewable energy industry in South Africa.

This was aired by the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) after seeing through the breaking of ground on a site that will house a R300m wind tower manufacturing facility by DCD Wind Towers.

CDC reckons that recent investments in the IDZ are bringing to reality long-held objectives of a renewable energy hub. The objective has been fired as South Africa’s renewable energy program takes off. The country’s renewable energy independent power producing initiative fetched investments of about R5bn last year, making South Africa one of the key players within the global renewable energy industry. But there are concerns that a significant portion of this investment will live the country if it does not get its house in order in terms of pushing for robust localization programmes. Coega’s push to become a player in this sector must be seen as part of this push.

Sandisiwe Ncemane, CDC business development manager in the energy sector, said “The Coega IDZ – including the Port of Ngqura – is set to become the nexus through which renewable energy parts and sector logistics are coordinated and managed for the entire province”.

“We have worked long and hard to create an environment in which renewable energy – from end to end – could both flourish at and be facilitated by Coega. This is becoming a hard-won reality as investment in this sector grows not only within the boundaries of the Coega IDZ, but throughout the province.”

In addition to the movements around the IDZ, the broader Eastern Cape seems to be positioned to become a significant player in the renewable energy industry. Towards the end of last year another player, Black Lite Energy, has emerged into the renewable energy space. In partnership with German giant Manz AG, Black Lite Energy plans to establish a multibillion rands thin film solar panel manufacturing facility in the Easter Cape. The entities principal Ajay Lalu says South Africa must ensure to maximize from the ensuing massive renewable energy programme. The country must ensure that it participates on big ticket items around the renewable industry. This may position the country to then export to the rest of the continent.

CDC said the Eastern Cape has significant resource potential in terms of renewable energy generation, with exceptional wind conditions by international standards, good solar conditions, as well as substantial potential for energy from the biomass and biofuels sectors. These locational assets have positioned the province as a major site for sustainable energy investment and implementation.

The socio-economic impacts also make the sector a point of focus in government strategies, said CDC. “At Coega alone the estimated value of the pipeline investments amounts to approximately R3-billion, with these wind and solar investments set to create thousands of jobs, about 6000 direct and 5000 indirect over the course of construction and operation,” said Ncemane.

Currently Coega has 20 operational investors, with five investors currently under construction and an additional two – including DCD Wind Towers – about to commence. An additional three investors – AfriSam (SA), AMG (China), Casa Steel (SA) – are underway with environmental impact assessments.

The basket of renewable energy investors include Electrawinds, Universal Wind, Innowind, EAB Astrum, and biofuels (Phyto Energy).

The Coega IDZ Renewable Energy business sector is uniquely geared to offer the best solutions for renewable energy and abundant opportunities in Wind Energy, Photovoltaic, Biomass-to-Energy development, said CDC.

Its positioning features include abundant land, connection to the Eskom grid via over 30 substations within the IDZ, proximity to logistics solutions like the port, a lay down area within the IDZ designated for wind turbine components, custom built warehouses to manufacture the green technologies components, green technology incentives and other IDZ specific incentives provided by the Department of Trade and Industry.

“By next year the landscape of Coega IDZ will have morphed completely and will be home to a minimum of 30 operating investors,” said Ncemane. “Coupled with sustained investment attraction underway, the future looks bright and green.”

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