South32’s Hillside smelter, Solana to introduce sustainable energy in Richards Bay

Diversified miner South32’s Richard’s Bay-based Hillside Aluminium smelter has partnered with energy company Solana Energy to transform the Richards Bay and King Cetshwayo district economic regions and bring much-needed sustainable energy to these commercial hubs.

The partners will embark on a multi-phased project to establish solar power infrastructure, develop a skills development programme in the renewable energy space and roll out an installer base for power solutions.

The solar component of the project will see the development of 2 MW to 2.5 MW of energy capacity within 12 months, allowing Hillside to leverage sustainable energy for its operations and reduce its carbon dioxide emissions.

The training component will comprise young electricians enrolling into an accredited programme with the Solar Training Academy.

Moreover, the project will identify ten candidates from the King Cethswayo district, who will help to capacitate five new micro-franchises to conduct solar photovoltaic installations in the region for individual households and small, medium-sized and microenterprises on an innovative monthly payment basis.

This will not only result in the creation of five new small businesses but will also start demonstrating the benefits of distributed renewable electricity generation, the companies state.

“We believe this is one of the most exciting renewable energy projects in the country at the moment and its integrated nature and ability to support multiple elements of the broader ecosystem makes it very unique,” Solana business development lead Ahmed Motara says.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with an organisation like South32 who understand the importance and urgency of investing in renewable energy infrastructure and the role it will play in developing the Richard’s Bay community,” he adds.

Hillside operations VP Calvin Mkhabela says this project provides a significant local economic opportunity with a combination of skills, jobs, economic participation and equitable access to energy.

“As a key player in the Richard’s Bay economy, we have a responsibility to identify and support projects that will facilitate the creation of jobs for the future and economic growth for the entire region. We are excited to partner with Solana on this.”