Tebogo Movundlela is the CEO of Aurora Wind Power, which is operating the West Coast 1 wind farm in South Africa. Owned by a consortium formed by Engie and South African investors (Investec Bank Limited and Kagiso Tiso Holdings), Aurora Wind Power celebrated the commercial operation of its 94 MW wind farm in June 2015. Secured in the second bidding round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme organized by South African authorities, West Coast 1 is strategically situated in the Western Cape Province, 130 km north of Cape Town, where the quality of wind resource produces high quality of electricity. The wind farm is expected to offset an estimated 5.6 million tons of CO2 over the 20-year duration of its power purchase agreement (PPA). The estimated annual energy production represents the consumption of approximately 110,000 low income houses.
Tell us a bit about your involvement in the South African renewable industry?
I am currently the CEO of Aurora Wind Power, a role that I have held since 2017, previously being the CFO of the company. My role is to ensure the optimal operation of the plant under high health and safety standards. Aurora interacts with a diverse group of stakeholders (from lenders, shareholders, and Government authorities to the surrounding community). Through the multitude of agreements in place and through common goals, we are continuously engaged with these stakeholders to ensure that the project objective – to deliver clean, safe and reliable energy, in a socially responsible way – are achieved.
In parallel, I also hold the position of chairperson of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA). The organization is concerned with advocating for the growth and sustainability of the wind industry in South Africa. The country is undergoing an energy transition and we would like to see wind well established in the energy mix, including activities across the value chain and in a manner that contributes to a just energy transition.
What challenges is Aurora Wind Power facing?
In spite of being a ring fenced entity, we are continuously looking for opportunities to maximize shareholder value, whether this is through operational efficiency or financial optimization. Aurora has also made socio-economic development commitments to the South African government where we have contractual obligations to expend a percentage of our turnover on community development programmes. South Africa has one of the highest Gini coefficients* in the world and therefore the need is substantial. Through relevant and targeted programmes, we hope to leave behind empowered communities after the end of our 20-year PPA.
How do you see the future of renewable energy in South Africa?
The signing of the 27 projects in 2018 was indeed a positive signal by the South African government after over 2 years of no activity in the REIPPP programme. Further the draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2018 indicates a notable allocation of 16,270 MW of renewables leading up to 2030, subject to ministerial determinations and periodic review of the IRP. The ruling party, the ANC, has also recently stated that it will “Continue to support the use of renewable technologies in the country’s energy mix to reduce the cost of energy, decrease greenhouse emissions, build the local industry through increased localization and create jobs […]”. The potential for renewables is diverse and ranges not only from utility scale power generation, but to mini-grids, off-grid, energy efficiency solutions to integrated grids, storage, hybrid models and the necessity for investment in additional transmission lines. My role at SAWEA is to contribute to the realisation of this potential.
* The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion intended to represent the income or wealth distribution of a nation’s residents, and is the most commonly used measurement of inequality. It measures the inequality among values of a frequency distribution (for example, levels of income). A Gini coefficient of zero expresses perfect equality, where all values are the same (for example, where everyone has the same income). A Gini coefficient of 1 (or 100%) expresses maximal inequality among values (e.g., for a large number of people, where only one person has all the income or consumption, and all others have none, the Gini coefficient will be very nearly one).