by Janice Foster, Zutari
Increasing electricity tariffs and ongoing load shedding has resulted in a lot of interest from private-sector clients to guarantee their energy security independent of electricity utility Eskom. Coupled with the global move towards ‘green’ energy, much of this interest is in renewable energy. An example of this trend is the recent announcement by Stellenbosch of an investigation into adopting alternate energy sources to mitigate the impact of load shedding in the city.
The national procurement of new generation, especially as emergency or back-up power, was re-initiated by a Request for Proposals issued by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to procure 2000 MW under the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producers Procurement (RMIPPP) Programme by June 2022.
Zutari’s pre-eminence in the energy space as a co-creator of integrated solutions is indicated by the fact that it has been involved in 50% of the submitted RMIPPP project bids. A direct response to the short-term electricity supply gap identified in the Integrated Resource Plan of 2019, the RMIPPP aims to alleviate the current electricity supply constraints facing South Africa.
Similar to the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, the RMIPPP is the first programme of its kind to be technology agnostic. This means that hybrid plants are an option, and may comprise multiple technologies such as gas, renewables, and battery energy storage.
Our client base extends from public-sector clients on a municipal and provincial level to private-sector clients such as project lenders and investors, owners and developers. As a multi-disciplinary engineering firm, Zutari has delivery units providing services across energy, water, infrastructure, transport, resources, and manufacturing and advisory.
The energy unit comprises four teams, namely generation, transmission and distribution, industrial power and automation and systems studies and network planning. Hence the team provides services across the full spectrum of energy projects from small scale individual projects to regional-level modelling. The industrial team focuses on design delivery of electrical power and automation systems in the energy, mining, oil and gas, water, wastewater, and renewable energy industries.
One of our major competitive advantages in the energy space is that we are a one-stop shop. Working closely with Zutari’s other delivery units, we can do everything from providing environmental assessments to detailed geotechnical investigations and structural design and of course all of the detail in terms of the electrical engineering. We are one of the best energy teams on the continent, encompassing end-to-end services and some highly experienced individuals.
Another advantage for Zutari is that its expertise largely resides in South Africa, providing quicker and easier access to its clients’ challenges. With the company focusing on engineered solutions mainly in Sub-Saharan and Eastern Africa, it is very active in the energy space in the region. The energy unit works closely with other Zutari teams to deliver integrated solutions. We have developed a number of innovative digital tools around solar photovoltaic design automation and performance-monitoring tools. We also have an in-house 3D visualisation team that allows us to present all of these solutions to our clients in that space.
In terms of challenges, technological change tends to outpace policy or legislation. At the moment that is probably one of the biggest limiting factors to opening up the energy market. If you look at the sheer pace of change, energy-storage battery systems were considered financially unviable not even two years ago; now almost every new generation project looks to consider this. Meanwhile, hydrogen is being flagged as the next big thing in energy.
The company's Energy Unit Lead is to position it to capitalise on the growth opportunities on the continent over the next couple of years. The current global interest in energy and energy security in particular keeps things interesting. What I really love about the sector is that every client and project is unique and presents their own unique challenges. It definitely keeps all of us on our toes.
Contact Rashree Maharaj, Zutari, Tel 012 427-2000, firstname.lastname@example.org