BURSARY PROGRAMME EMPOWERING DREAMS

February 2024, Aries Solar Power.

Bursary programmes are making a positive impact in Kenhardt, Northern Cape, helping students chase their dreams. One such programme demonstrates that access to education funding is more than just about tertiary qualifications; it brings communities together, and supports aspirations. Bursaries show students in this area that their dreams and educational goals truly matter.

Kenhardt is benefitting directly from Aries Solar Power’s local community bursary fund, currently supporting nine local students, including Aubrene Joelin Tities (28), who is on track to become an Installation Electrician at the CS Electrical Training Centre in Bloemfontein.

“I’ve wanted to be an Electrician since I was 18. After working as an assistant in Prieska for five years, a colleague encouraged me to formalise my skills and get the necessary qualifications,” shared Aubrene Joelin Tities.

Following in the footsteps of previous successful beneficiaries, Tities plans to contribute his skills to this local area. He’s showcasing how bursary programmes play a crucial role in developing human capital, creating a skilled and educated workforce essential for the growth and sustainability of communities.

“It would be a dream to work at the solar plant, gain more experience, and give back to Aries Solar Power. Most importantly, I’ve been able to show my community that there are programmes available to support less privileged communities like ours in Kenhardt. It means everything to me to be a beacon of hope for those facing hardship, letting them know there are programmes dedicated to developing and educating the community,” concluded Tities.

Aries Solar Power remains committed to making a positive impact through education, as seen in the many young individuals who have benefited from formal tertiary education. This contributes to the well-being of these individuals, their families, and the broader community in Kenhardt.

GLOBELEQ COMPLETES $37 MILLION RESTRUCTURING

January 2024.

Globeleq, the leading independent power company in Africa, announces that it has completed a US$37 million (ZAR682 million) senior debt restructuring of its 11MW Aries Solar (“Aries”) and 11MW Konkoonsies Solar (“Konkoonsies”) plants in the Northern Cape of South Africa. Globeleq previously completed debt restructuring of the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm and the De Aar and Droogfontein solar plants in August 2021, and the Soutpan solar plant in January 2022.

By lowering the cost of debt for the projects, the restructuring – which was led by Standard Bank Limited – allows for a significant reduction in wholesale electricity prices from the plants, creates a more efficient capital structure enabling release of funds for shareholders to reinvest in the power sector and accelerates equity distributions to the Aries and Konkoonsies communities and BEE shareholders.

Both Aries and Konkoonsies commenced operations in 2014 as part of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme and Globeleq acquired majority interest of the plants in 2019. Since May 2021, Globeleq has managed the full scope of operations and maintenance at both plants, achieving an average availability of above 99%

Mike Scholey, Globeleq’s CEO, said:

“Restructuring the financing terms of these projects continues to be of significant benefit to Eskom and to South African consumers. We have reduced the cost of power at these two plants by around ZAR129 million over the remaining ten years of the power purchase agreement. Overall, Globeleq has now restructured six of our eight plants in South Africa using the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s IPP Office Refinancing Protocol. These efforts demonstrate our desire to be a long-term producer of cost-effective renewable power in South Africa to benefit energy users and encourage investment in the renewable energy sector.”

Sherrill Byrne, Executive Energy and Infrastructure Finance of Standard Bank, commented:

“We are pleased to have partnered with Globeleq again and taken over the debt financing of the Aries and Konkoonsies Solar Projects allowing for cost savings to be passed through to Eskom and ultimately to the end consumers. Standard Bank is committed to being a leading player in the energy sector in South Africa.”

For further information, go to http://www.standardbank.com

NURTURING AGRICULTURAL TALENT

January 2024, Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.

As the 2024 school year begins, Jeandre Plaatjies from Humansdorp and Muhammed Davids from the Patensie community are embarking on their journey to realize their passion for a future career in agriculture. Supported by a dedicated local agricultural bursary programme, they are commencing Grade 8 at Marlow Agricultural High School in Cradock, located approximately 1.5 hours from their home towns.

Bernadene Plaatjies, speaking about her son Jeandre’s selection, expressed her optimism, stating, “I believe the bursary opportunity will assist my child to reach his full potential by providing financial support for his education and allowing him to access resources and opportunities that may have otherwise been out of reach. He will also have networking opportunities and professional development support, helping him to build a strong foundation for future success.”

The Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm agricultural bursary programme, launched in January 2021, is dedicated to providing financial support to promising young high-school students interested in agriculture. Since its inception, the programme has supported a total of five learners from the communities of Humansdorp, Hankey, Patensie, Thornhill, and Jeffreys Bay.

The focus of the initiative is to establish a skills pipeline and alleviate the shortage of agricultural skills in local communities through education. Additionally, it places importance on both academic excellence and sports participation, revealing noteworthy talent in rugby in 2023.

Nonini Makhothe, Economic Development Specialist at Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, highlighted the broader impact, stating, “Agriculture plays an important role in the economy of our country. Providing support to these young people means our wind farm is playing an active role in ensuring that communities receives the right calibre of young people that will one day drive the agriculture through innovative thinking.”

To qualify for the bursary, learners underwent assessments covering academic performance, interest in agriculture, adaptability to the new school environment, and sporting interests. The comprehensive bursary covers tuition, accommodation, and travel fees, supporting all five learners, until they complete their final Matric year.

At the conclusion of this third year, an evaluation of the project will be conducted, underscoring Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm’s ongoing commitment to nurturing agricultural talent in local communities.

 

EMPOWERING NORTHERN CAPE EDUCATORS

January 2024, De Aar Solar Power.

Armancha Mitchell, a dedicated educator in training from De Aar, is entering her third year of studies for a Bachelor of Education, Intermediate Phase. Born and raised in De Aar, Armancha’s commitment to uplifting her community through education is evident in her role as a Maths Coach and her aspirations to contribute more as a qualified teacher.

Her educational journey is supported by the De Aar Solar Power Bursary Programme, currently benefiting over five local recipients. The programme, focused on nurturing talents in Numeracy and Literacy, encourages students from regions like Hanover, Britstown, Philipstown, and De Aar to pursue teaching careers.

“The opportunity is a blessing because there are a lot of young people in my community with the potential and dream to go study further but can’t due to finances. Being in this position, I am able to show them that this is possible,” said Armancha, encouraging others to pursue their dreams.

Discovering her passion for teaching in 2020, when she began serving as a Maths Coach at Kareeville Primary School, what initially seemed an unforeseen career path evolved into a profound commitment to education and inspiring young minds.

“When I realized that I loved what I was doing and accomplishing while working with these kids, I started the process of applying for my teaching degree,” said Armancha, who is driven by a hunger for knowledge and envisions extending her educational journey beyond the Bachelor’s degree, aiming for an Honours degree and eventually a Master’s degree in education.

“We believe in fostering education and empowering aspiring teachers in the region. Through our Numeracy and Literacy Programme and Bursary Programme, community members like Armancha will be encouraged to pursue a career in education and contribute their skills back into the community,” concluded Hlengiwe Radebe, Economic Development Director for De Aar Solar Power.

CARING FOR COMMUNITY MEMBERS IN TIMES OF GRIEF

December 2023, De Aar Solar Power.

In an unconventional career move, Theresa Greef (40), a De Aar resident, found her calling as a funeral director, a role usually less explored by women. However, her empathy and detail-oriented approach make her a perfect fit for this unique profession, aligning with skills found in social work, nursing, human resources, and management.

As the owner of Seserjo Funeral Services in Leuuwenhof, De Aar, she emphasizes their commitment to caring for clients during challenging times. “We are caring people, respecting the last wishes of those who have passed away. We guide clients through the entire process, ensuring they are not left alone to face it.”

Seserjo Funeral Services recently received support from De Aar Solar Power’s Enterprise Development programme, designed to foster the growth of local businesses. Following a pitch deck session in 2021, the business qualified for funding and support, including business management training and the establishment of a dedicated container for business activities.

This move from a room in a private home to a more visible location in Leuuwenhof is expected to enhance the business’s professionalism and accessibility.

“Theresa Greef is the heart behind Seserjo Funeral Services and demonstrated a natural aptitude and skills in her pitch session. This was aided by her previous training with the Small Enterprise Development Agency, which also helped her get her businesses registered, making sense for us to further contribute by offering additional training and support,” explained Zuki Ndela, Economic Development Specialist at De Aar Solar Power.

Theresa’s future plans are aimed at further supporting the De Aar community, having identified how families need additional support and comfort.

“My dream is to establish a church on our premises, providing families with a centralized place for all their needs,” concluded Theresa.

THORNHILL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT BENEFITS MANY

November 2023, Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.

As part of a comprehensive developmental programme, focused on the upliftment of the Thornhill community, a 100% black women-owned SMME has been receiving support and funding from Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.

MMB Sewing Project, a name derived from the owners’ surnames, was started by three very passionate women from this small community, who identified the need for a local school uniform supplier. As a viable SMME, which is now receiving a substantial boost, job opportunities are expected to open up, with the increase of work.

“The business stands a very good chance of changing the economic conditions of the ladies’ personally, as well as providing much needed jobs for the community of Thornhill. Plus, through a needs analysis study, we know that Thornhill Primary School parents will benefit from access to a capacitated local business, to purchase uniforms from,” said Nonini Makhothe, Economic Development Specialist, Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.

To begin with, the wind farm assisted the enterprise by preparing the secured land to accommodate a container structure to house their business, this included levelling out the land and casting a concrete slab for the container to sit upon. Since then a container has been purchased and modified to operate as a sewing company; fencing and gates have been installed as well a steel structure to secure the air conditioner; and the electricity application and main power supply is underway.

But, most importantly, sewing equipment has been purchased and installed and the directors are receiving training. Further support is underway, all designed to ensure a favourable working environment that can support a thriving small business.

“The help from Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm has assisted us to properly set up our company, but we are certainly most excited to have received the highest quality sewing equipment, making it easier for us to be able to support and service our community,” said Xoliswa Mbenga, one of the MMB Sewing Project business owners.

SWARTBERG SCHOOL ROUNDS OFF ENERGYDRIVE

November 2023, Klipheuwel Wind Farm.

Almost three weeks after the EnergyDrive departed from the Mother City, it has returned to the Western Cape, after visiting 21 schools across the three Cape provinces, with a final stop-over at Swartberg High School. This educational endeavour established by the renewable energy industry, aims to engage, educate, and inspire the next generation’s interest in renewable energy.

Wrapping up its trek across the green energy map, the distinctive yellow bus was greeted with enthusiasm at this Overberg school, having already delighted some 2 000 learners scattered across many other communities already.

“Engaging interactive models that bring to life various renewable technologies, is what makes this edu-tainer so special – bringing together community development and education, seamlessly empowering young minds with knowledge about climate change, energy efficiency, and even sustainable living,” explained Nonini Makhothe, Economic Development Specialist at Klipheuwel Wind Farm, one of the funders of this year’s EnergyDrive.

The EnergyDrive features a container with engaging interactive models that enhance comprehension of various renewable technologies. These exhibits not only promote awareness of renewable energy sources but also address pressing concerns related to climate change. With a solar roof structure, biogas digester, photovoltaic panel display, and a solar hot water unit, the EnergyDrive offers valuable insights into the advantages and applications of renewable energy.

Note: This is an initiative by the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) and key institutions, including Durban University of Technology (DUT), South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), and the Energy and Water Sector Education Training Authority (EWSETA), and the Green Youth Network.

GROWING APPRECIATION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

November 2023, Boshof Solar Power.

Enviro Wise Clubs have launched at local schools in the towns of Boshof and Hertzogville, as part of an overarching Climate Change Awareness Programme. This public-private-partnership programme sees the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s (SANBI) Free State National Botanical Gardens and Boshof Solar Power supporting this learner programme, with the aim of driving the enviro-awareness agenda for the benefit of the local community.

Launched in September, at Aramela Combined School and Boshof Combined School, the programme which is structured to include regular interventions focused on educational sessions, weekly clean-up initiatives and environmental calendar events, hopes to promote a cleaner environment and ultimately encourage the rehabilitation of the indigenous fauna and flora.

The partnership with SANBI’s Free State National Botanical Gardens, will see the programme hosting a career expo in February next year (2024), for Grade 11 learners to create awareness around careers in environmental fields.

“We chose to support this community school programme to help foster environmental care and build a generation of eco-friendly community youth. We hope that the knowledge gained will prompt people to stop littering and dumping rubbish in non-allocated places. These habits have resulted in community areas being void of indigenous vegetation. Furthermore, as part of our focus on building climate resilient and aware communities, we hope that people will start contributing toward an improved and healthier environment for community members to enjoy,” said Zuki Ndlela, Economic Development Specialist for Boshof Solar Power

This programme forms part of Boshof Solar Power’s social economic development programme and it is hoped it will expand to more schools in the area.

ECD PRACTITIONERS GRADUATE

30 October 2023, De Aar Solar Power.

A recent graduation event acknowledged a significant assembly of Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners, marking one of the largest cohorts in both the Northern Cape and Free State Provinces. This underscores the persistent dedication to enhancing education in the region. Distinguished participants from the Department of Education, Sol Plaatje University, the Northern Cape Premier’s Office, educational experts, and benevolent bursary sponsors were present to celebrate and support over 100 practitioners on their two-year educational journey.

Britstown local, Funiwe Bob, who has six years of experience in Early Childhood Development (ECD), is among the graduates who have received their certificates with pride. During her interview, she emphasizes her passion for teaching and credits hard work as the key to her success.

“Through my ECD practitioner training, I’ve acquired invaluable knowledge on the various stages of child development. I’ve learned how to plan for different age groups, the significance of confidentiality, and the appropriate conduct when working with young children. Among all the unit standards, grasping the nuances of baby, toddler, and young child development truly illuminated my journey. Thanks to our dedicated facilitators for their clear explanations,” said Funiwe Bob, ECD practitioner at Masifundisane Day Care, having achieved a Further Education and Training Certificate: Early Childhood Development, NQF level 4.

She is one of the graduates funded by De Aar Solar Power, as part of its socio economic development programme, which has a strong focus on education within the communities of De Aar, Britstown, and Philipstown.

Two cohorts of ECD practitioners graduated with Early Childhood Development qualifications, comprising 66 students awarded their Further Education and Training Certificate: Early Childhood Development, NQF level 4; and 39 their Higher Certificate: Early Childhood Development, NQF Level 5, totalling 105.

Funding from De Aar Solar Power, Droogfontein Solar Power, and Boshof Solar Power allowed the Northern Cape Department of Education to increase the number of ECD Practitioners that could access bursaries and add to the general upliftment of education in this region of the country.

LEADING THE WAY IN CONSERVATION EFFORTS

October 2023, Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.

Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm is proud to announce a conservation initiative aimed at safeguarding the endangered Black Harrier raptor, one of Southern Africa’s scarcest endemic birds of prey. With a global population of about 1,000 mature breeding birds, the Black Harrier has faced a decline in recent years. The wind farm, in collaboration with well-known ornithologists and conservation partners, is committed to reversing this trajectory and ensuring the survival of this magnificent species, for which it has recently received an industry accolade.

Over the past two years, Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm has pioneered avifauna mitigation measures by fitting tracking devices to Black Harriers, allowing researchers to gain valuable insights into their movements and habits. Four Black Harriers have been fitted with trackers, with two installed by ornithologist Dr. Rob Simmons in the previous year and an additional two by Dr. Megan Murgatroyd this year. These trackers enable the wind farm to identify the key areas frequented by the raptors, allowing for precise mitigation and offset efforts to protect these majestic birds.

Furthermore, the wind farm undertakes nest inspections during the breeding season to oversee breeding outcomes, protect nests from human disruptions, and minimize fatalities. This approach aligns with the overarching goal of achieving positive population growth for the species.

Marli Schoeman, ESG and Biodiversity Manager at Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, emphasized the importance of collaborating with specialists, stating, “We’ve committed to avoiding any further fatalities of Black Harriers on site, and further to achieve net gains for the species. Ultimately we want to achieve a reduced population decline for the species.”

Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm’s transparent approach and regular engagement with specialists and BirdLife South Africa, through Samantha Ralston-Paton, has garnered support for their extensive conservation and mitigation measures. This collaborative spirit has also allowed academic researchers like Robin Colyn to build predictive models, including collision-risk modelling and flight-path modelling, which can be applied to new wind farms, benefiting bird conservation efforts across the country.

Despite the urgency of these conservation efforts, the wind farm remains the sole Independent Power Producer in South Africa that has funded the fitting of tracking devices on Black Harriers, demonstrating a commitment to the species’ preservation.

Note: SAWEA Industry Awards: Environmental Stewardship – the award honours a company that demonstrates a commitment to sustainable energy and exemplify and role model environmental stewardship.

The winner has shown a commitment to sustainable energy and protection of the environment through their mitigation measures such as Observer Led Shut Down on Demand, partnering with Avian specialists for research and monitoring, and upcoming innovations such as automated detection using cameras and machine learning in order to protect endangered bird species and minimise the potential for bird strikes.