Palabora Mining Company is working with Mzansi Energy to establish a 132 MWp Marula Green Power plant and battery energy storage system. The storage system will have the capacity to store 310 MWh of electricity in light of a clean, affordable, and reliable electricity supply.
It is said that the Marula Green Power plant will be implemented in two stages. The construction will be followed by operation and maintenance.
The financial close is probably going to take place in the second quarter of 2023. It is said that operations are expected to start in the second quarter of 2024. At this stage, the timelines are only estimates and could change based on how the comprehensive feasibility study turns out.
The project, once fully deployed, will rank among the biggest private independent power producers (IPPs) in South Africa. It is aimed at providing the mine with reliable energy at a fair price, resulting in significant cost savings.
The completion of the comprehensive feasibility study will result in the parties finalizing a long-term power purchase agreement. This is according to the CEO of Journey2Green, Wessel Wessels, a founding partner in Mzansi Energy.
For a 12-year period, Mzansi Energy will design, finance, install, run, and maintain the plant.
The Marula Green Power plant project location
The location of the plant was chosen to allow for direct supply to the mine without linkage to the Eskom grid. It will be situated within the jurisdiction of Ba-Phalaborwa, Limpopo, outside Namakgale township, and about 20 km from the mine.
For Ba-Phalaborwa communities in the province of Limpopo, the project promises affordable, secure, green energy as well as significant social upliftment.
The project is a step toward helping South Africa address its electricity challenges. This was revealed by Tumi Mogoera, associate director of Summit Partners, another founding partner in Mzansi Energy.
Mogoera stated that the Marula Green Power plant will also inspire the country’s Just Energy Transition (JET) net-zero carbon emissions strategy.
According to the study performed to identify the ideal location subject to a final environmental impact assessment, Mzansi Energy recently joined forces with the local traditional authority.
The authority is expected to host the solar power plant on its property and enter into a long-term lease. The long-term lease is conditional upon specific socio-economic rewards for local Ba-Phalaborwa communities in areas like business opportunities for SMEs, skills transfer and development, as well as job creation.
How the project will impact the locals
The Marula Green Power project will generate a lot of direct and indirect employment opportunities during the implementation phases. The local suppliers in the Ba-Phalaborwa region will also be exposed to opportunities for conducting business.
According to initial estimates, the project is anticipated to generate between 500 and 750 temporary jobs during construction. It will also create 35 permanent jobs during operation and maintenance over a twelve-year period.
Mzansi Energy has developed a roadmap for community development. This is to stimulate the local economy through skill development as well as employment of locals.
This is valid during the development, building, and running of the solar plant in the Ba-Phalaborwa region.
Based on these strong relationships with the community, Mzansi Energy has developed a roadmap for corporate social responsibility. These include creating jobs, financing initiatives for skill development, youth development, and community development programs. They also involve agrivoltaic farming to boost food security and reduce poverty among the locals.
Agrivoltaics uses a portion of the land for both agriculture and solar photovoltaic power generation. To ensure that the process progresses fairly and to the benefit of the local communities, the stakeholders must be consulted about the detailed plan.