De Wildt Solar, situated within the Madibeng Local Municipality, close to the town of Brits, in the North West Province, announced its Commercial Operations on 23 January 2021, having achieved facility completion.
This 50MW PV project is the fourth utility scale plant that has come on line, in the North West, in under five months, helping to make this Province a serious player in the renewable energy sector. All four projects are 100% South African-owned and don’t only deliver much needed power to the country’s national grid, but also provide benefits to the local rural communities through impactful economic development programmes.
“Resident of Brits, Mmakau, Mothotlung, Lethlabile, Ga-Rankuwa and surrounding areas within a 50km radius of the project will be the direct beneficiaries of the Economic Development projects over the next 20-year operations period. These projects will include training and accelerator programmes, skills development training and other welfare initiatives,” Nomzamo Landingwe, Chief Community Operations Officer for De Wildt Solar.
One of De Wildt Solar’s Socio-Economic Development programmes included the installation of a waterless ablution facility, for the Rutanang HIV Care Centre.
Rutanang HIV Care Centre is situated in the area of Mmakau, close to De Wildt Solar. This community health centre provides much needed support and services to hundreds of community members, including primary school children.
This NGO assists the community with HIV testing and counselling, education around chronic diseases and also assists the local clinic with handing out of Chronic Medication in the community. The waterless ablution facilities from Enviro Loo were installed to replace the use of old drop toilets, which are generally unhygienic and sometimes unsafe.
The focus of De Wildt Solar’s Economic Development programme is to empower and strengthen local beneficiary communities with a focus on education, as well as youth development, health, food security and welfare. The programmes have been chosen following research and engagement to ensure that they are well informed and will strengthen the beneficiary communities.
Additionally, a percentage of the revenue generated each year will be committed to implementing Enterprise Development initiatives. The first beneficiary, a brick making facility called Moagi Women Development Primary Cooperative, in the Mmakau community, received support during the project’s construction phase.
A shaded working area was constructed for the co-op, to create a resting space for the women who work in the tough outdoor weather conditions. This shaded working area has also created a space for the co-op workers to set-up their machinery, which was donated by other donors.
The overarching focus of the programme is on small and micro enterprises, designed to enhance growth. To deliver on this objective, the establishment of a local resource centre, for use by local SMMEs and communities at large, will support this drive to aid development, whilst the provision of accredited skills training will be provided to start-up businesses.
The 50MW De Wildt Solar project comprises 169 140 solar modules that draw from the intense North West sun, producing enough power to satisfy the needs of around 84 000 average South African households. The solar plant is expected to feed 123 GWh per year of much-needed green electricity into the country’s national power grid, via Eskom’s Zolograph switching station. It is part of the government’s renewable energy independent power producer procurement programme (REIPPPP), which launched a decade ago and has successfully procured over 6.4GW of independent clean power.
Around 400 people from the local beneficiary communities were directly employed on the project during construction. This is in addition to the employment created through the contracting out of various services.
De Wildt Solar is owned by African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM, a member of Old Mutual Alternative Investments) through its IDEAS Fund, Reatile Solar Power (RF) (Pty) Ltd, Phakwe Solar (RF) (Pty) Ltd, AREP (African Rainbow Energy and Power) and Cicada Community Trust.