Kruisvallei hydropower plant, credit: ESI-africa.com

UK Government’s International Climate Finance programme, UK Climate Investments, has financed a total of 254MW of clean energy projects in South Africa. The milestone was reached following the inauguration of Kruisvallei Hydro, a 4MW run-of-river hydropower facility in the Free State province.

Kruisvallei Hydro is the last of three renewable energy projects part-financed by UK Climate Investments.

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The other two renewable projects include the 110MW Perdekraal East Wind Farm in the Western Cape province and the 140MW Kangnas Wind Farm in the Northern Cape province in October and November last year.

Richard Abel, managing director of UK Climate Investments, said: “It has been an honour to see these important projects come to life over the past two years. In addition to supporting South Africa’s low carbon transition by providing enough clean electricity to power nearly 200,000 homes per year, these projects have delivered opportunities for employment, skills development, and investment in rural communities across the region.”

Nigel Casey, British High Commissioner to South Africa, said: “As COP26 Presidency we are pressing for greater ambition globally to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals. This needs us to accelerate the global transition to clean power, benefitting from low cost and sustainable energy sources such as the Kruisvallei Hydro plant.

In order to realise the projects, UK Climate Investments’ R253 million ($17 million) partnered with the majority black-owned and managed developer of renewable energy projects H1 Holdings. The partnership has created around 385 jobs during construction phase and is expected to provide a further 195 jobs over the projects’ 20-year lifecycle.

Casey added: “The UK is committed to supporting green, resilient and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and I am delighted that this innovative UK programme, run through UK Climate Investments and Macquarie, has supported job creation, localisation and black ownership in this sector.”

Reyburn Hendricks, CEO of H1 Holdings, said: “Much needed funding is required to transform South Africa’s energy mix and promote cleaner, greener energy systems. Our partnership with UK Climate Investments has been critical to the delivery of these projects, which will play a role in supporting South Africa to build back better and greener from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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The three projects will help avoid approximately 844,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum over their lifetime, which is equivalent to taking 182,000 cars off the road for a year. In addition to supporting South Africa’s low carbon transition, each project has also committed a percentage of its annual revenue to community initiatives supporting education, housing and sustainable enterprise development in surrounding areas.

Through the UK International Climate Finance, UK Climate Investments has committed approximately £70 million ($96 million) over three years to support the development of clean energy and green finance markets in sub-Saharan Africa.