SOUTH AFRICA – Italian-based firm Enertronica Santerno which has been an active player in South Africa over the past 10 years, will invest up to US$1.2 million to enhance the capability of manufacturing inverters for solar photovoltaic applications, including storage solutions, with a maximum initial production capacity of more than 500MW per year.
According to the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA), the inverters will achieve a designated local content value higher than 40%, therefore exceeding the minimum requirements for public procurement.
Activities to practically implement the plan are already in place and will be finalised in the next five months.
Earlier in May 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa will be amending Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act to increase the National Energy Regulator of South Africa licensing threshold for embedded generation projects from 1MW to 100MW.
Ramaphosa said amending the regulation reflects government’s determination to take the necessary action to achieve energy security and reduce the impact of load-shedding on businesses and households across the country.
Welcoming the Enertronica Santerno investment, Niveshen Govender, SAPVIA COO, says: “This significant investment shows the massive potential for the solar PV market here in South Africa. The fact that we are attracting international investors shows the viability of our renewable energy sector, both in terms of financial return as well as the capability of our workforce to deliver best-in-class manufacturing.”
“Post-COVID, we will require foreign and local investment to drive the economic recovery and transform our energy infrastructure to meet current and future requirements. This investment will also contribute to South Africa realising the full, transformational potential of its solar PV market.”
“Localisation, upskilling and a focus on ensuring true South African participation across the value chain is vital if we are all to benefit from the full rewards of the REIPPPP [Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme].”
According to Luigi Guerra, country manager of Enertronica Santerno, “the group has already successfully implemented manufacturing activities in South Africa in various sectors associated with renewable energies.
“In 2013, in fact, a production plant was built (and then successfully dismantled) for the manufacturing of supporting structures for photovoltaic panels which supplied steel works for around 400MW of panels.
“Subsequently, inverter-based power stations for a total capacity of around 600MW were locally built with a 58% local content, making Enertronica Santerno one of the leading local producers in South Africa in its own market sector.”
Govender emphasised that: “Government must continue to act in the interest of South Africans, and we await confirmation from the DMRE [Department of Mineral Resources and Energy] and DTIC [Department of Trade, Industry and Competition] that legislation will be implemented to ensure that projects are able to meet the localisation requirements for Bid Window 5 of the REIPPPP.
“We need certainty, sustained procurement, and a consistent approach to developing the local manufacturing market segment.”
According to Govender, SAPVIA will continue to actively engage with its members to ensure they are proactively seeking to attract additional investment, both foreign and local, to drive local manufacturing capabilities, so that they can fully realise the capacity requirements of the South African market, both currently and in future procurement rounds.
“Following the extended pause in government procurement of clean, affordable renewable energy generation infrastructure, through the REIPPPPP, we are starting to see confidence growing from industry, who now feel ready to invest in local manufacturing.
“After a period of decline, where investors felt hesitant to move forward with local manufacturing, due to the lack of certainty from government, we are now seeing the green shoots of a South African renewable energy manufacturing sector. With this confidence, we hope to see additional investment, local job creation and, of course, upskilling of local workers.
“We cannot afford to let this opportunity pass and we look forward to working with government to deliver not only our energy needs, through sustained and consistent procurement of renewable energy, but also job creation and sustainable employment through a commitment to localisation.
“SAPVIA welcomes this positive investment from our member, Enertronica Santerno, and we look forward to working with them and supporting their future success in the South African market,” Govender noted.