Building Energy sees 'huge potential' in South Africa

Italian renewable energy group Building Energy looks set to remained active in South Africa after recently playing host to the country’s minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane at the company’s headquarters in Milan.

Building Energy, a globally integrated independent power producer, has developed and manages more than 30 projects in South Africa and Central Africa, including the 81 MW Kathu solar farm in the Northern Cape, one of the biggest PV plants on the continent. The group also operates wind, biomass and hydro-electric projects in the country, including the 14 MW biomass plant in Mkuze, the first and largest biomass plant in Africa.

In April, Building Energy won preferred bidder status in the fourth round of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPP) for the development of a 140 MW wind project in Roggeveld, an area between the Northern and Western Cape Provinces, and a 4.7 MW small-hydro project in Kruisvallei, in the Free State Province.

Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa was “focusing its attention on the environment, maintaining all the goals that were set for the improvement of the energy mix and the increase in the use of clean energy, and will be one of the main players in the upcoming COP21. We are aware of the role that foreign companies, like Building Energy, play in South Africa and we’re working to keep all our commitments in order to guarantee that their investments will profit.”

Building Energy has also been active with a number of initiatives in the country. In May, the company sponsored the African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa in Cape Town, a global conference and trade exhibition for the power and water utility industry. It has also been a key participant in the South Africa-Italy Summit for the past two years.

Building Energy CEO Fabrizio Zago called Nkoana-Mashabane’s visit to the company’s Milan headquarters a “tangible sign of the good relationship” the group has with South Africa. The country “represents a market with a huge potential for companies operating in the renewable energy sector” thanks to its rich resources and the governmental programs for clean energy development, he added.

Building Energy has a current pipeline in 24 countries with more than 2.9 GW and generative assets being built over the next two years of more than 500 MW.

In June, the company announced a $200 million plan to build two solar PV plants in the northern Egyptian area of Benban with a combined capacity of 50 MW.