TNPA awards bid for first 20 MW solar plant at Richards Bay Port

Transnet port terminal in Richards bay. File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi / Independent Newspapers

Transnet port terminal in Richards bay. File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi / Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 4, 2024


Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has appointed Amulet Group Consortium as the preferred bidder to construct and operate its first 20 MW solar photovoltaics (PV) plant at the Port of Richards Bay.

This development is part of TNPA’s Renewable Energy Purchase programme, aimed at installing 100 MW of renewable energy across South Africa’s eight commercial seaports.

The construction of this solar plant is integral to TNPA’s strategy to decarbonise its port operations, aligning with South Africa’s commitment to transition to a net-zero emission economy by 2050.

Moshe Motlohi, TNPA managing executive for the eastern region ports, highlighted the environmental and economic benefits, saying that “the introduction of a renewable energy solution in the port system will enable the reduction of carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions from coal-generated electricity. It will further provide a cost-effective and reliable energy supply to the port and its users.”

The decision follows a Request for Proposals procurement process initiated in May 2023. The Amulet Group Consortium, which includes Amulet Group and LTM Energy Group, has been tasked with designing, constructing, testing, commissioning, operating, and maintaining the 20 MW solar PV plant with a battery energy system for a period of seven years.

Amulet Group Consortium’s experience, according to a TNPA press release, includes developing gas-insulated substations up to 765KV, constructing power transmission lines, building solar farms up to 1GW, and installing automation and control panels for major South African corporations.

The design and construction of the solar PV plant are expected to commence in June 2024, with the plant becoming operational by 2026, May 31.

This project is a key component of TNPA’s broader initiative to enhance the sustainability of South Africa’s ports and reduce dependency on coal-generated electricity.

The move towards renewable energy in port operations is seen as a critical step in mitigating the impacts of climate change while ensuring energy security and efficiency.

The success of this project at Richards Bay could set a precedent for similar initiatives across other South African ports, contributing significantly to the nation’s renewable energy targets.

For the lower middle-class communities relying on the economic activities of the port, “this shift not only promises environmental benefits but also offers potential for job creation and skills development in the renewable energy sector,” TNPA said.