Mpumalanga Business 2021-22

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Expanding local value chains and increasing opportunities for skills transfer

INTERVIEW

Mercia Grimbeek, ENERTRAG South Africa’s Director of Project Development, evaluates the prospects for renewable energy in Mpumalanga. What is ENERTRAG’S involvement in Mpumalanga? ENERTRAG is a developer of wind, solar and hybrid renewable energy projects actively pursuing opportunities in Mpumalanga province. What are the key challenges and opportunities? Regulatory hurdles are still one of the key challenges facing renewable energy deployment. A close working synergy between the renewable and mining sectors is crucial to maximising opportunities in Mpumalanga. A more streamlined permitting process would encourage the increase of renewable deployment. Many opportunities are available to develop renewable facilities with the added advantage of already existing grid infrastructure.

Mercia Grimbeek

BIOGRAPHY Mercia has worked in the renewable energy industry since 2010 and recently joined ENERTRAG South Africa as the Director of Project Development. She has extensive experience developing projects from greenfield to constructionready status and has consulted to various Independent Power Producers on socio- economic and economic de velopment projects. Mercia is the chairperson of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) and has been a board member since 2018.

Does ENERTRAG have a role in creating a just transition from the fossilfuel economy? Absolutely. ENERTRAG is fully committed to a just energy transition. Through the development, construction and operation of renewable facilities we remain supportive of all efforts to expand local value chains and increase opportunities for skills transfer and training initiatives, thereby creating meaningful job opportunities. Please explain renewable energy development zones (REDZs). REDZs were designed to not only fast-track the deployment of renewable technologies but also to align the location of these technologies to areas where grid infrastructure is available. ENERTRAG has tried to locate as many of its developments in REDZs and is looking forward to further REDZs being gazetted or the expansion of REDZs to include wind technology. What experience does the company have in working with partners in coal-producing regions? The company draws off experiences from its offices in Germany where such collaborations are further advanced. Here ENERTRAG takes learnings from initiatives that have been successful and investigates how it can be adapted to local conditions. This synergy extends also to industries that are large carbon emitters. Please detail the company’s involvement with hydrogen-based power plants. ENERTRAG has been generating green hydrogen from renewable sources at its Head Office in Dauerthal in Germany since 2011. The company has a deep understanding of the engineering and optimisation of these plants, which can provide solutions such as clean fuel for the transport industry and heating solutions, enabling a move away from fossil-based fuels and enhancing a reduction in carbon emissions. ■