Ambassador celebrates company’s four decades in South Africa



EDF, a global low-carbon energy supplier, celebrated it 40th anniversary of operations in South Africa recently.

Christophe Farnaud, French Ambassador to South Africa

The French ambassador to South Africa, Christophe Farnaud, said in his opening address that the economy must grow to provide much needed jobs, but not at the expense of the environment. Therefore, clean energy is the common denominator of both economy and environment. French companies, the ambassador said, as EDF has shown, are willing to help South Africa with education and skills development while providing the country with clean sources of energy.

Luc Koechlin, the managing director of the South African operation, said that the EDF Group, with an annual revenue of almost €70-billion, has been active in South Africa since 1978 and assisted Eskom in the construction of the continent’s first nuclear power station at Koeberg in the Western Cape.

In his presentation, Nicolas Lecomp, the company’s manager for South African projects, said the company has four wind-power plants in operation in South Africa. They are all in the Eastern Cape province and contribute a total of 141,6 MW to the country’s power supply. A particularly interesting development, he said, happened in Grahamstown where it was impossible to connect the 24,6 MW Waainek wind farm to Eskom’s grid. Instead, it was connected to local municipality. This is uncommon practice in South Africa, he said.

Valerie Lekev, the company’s senior executive vice president for Middle East and Africa, said that the company’s long-term solar power vision – “Le Plan Solaire” – is to have a world-wide installed base of 30 GW of solar PV and 10 GW of energy storage by 2035. To achieve this goal, she said, the company’s research and development teams – which numbers about 5000 employees – is constantly exploring new technologies and processes to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Daluvuyo Ntsebeza, the company’s economic development manager, said that 2,1% of the revenue derived from the sale of electricity from the four wind farms was spent on communities living within a 50 km radius of the wind farms. This amounted to almost R21-million in 2017, he said.

Most of the money (1,5%) was spent on socio-economic development, education, sports, health and arts and culture projects. The balance (0,6%) went towards supporting small black-owned enterprises working in agriculture, retail, construction, and small-scale renewable energy, Ntsebeza said.

Beneficiaries are measured against key performance indicators (KPIs), he said, so that the company can be sure that the communities really benefit from the donations the company makes. The Grassroots Youth Development (GYD) programme helped a local school receive a sports pitch using local small businesses. One of GYD’s initiatives is the Khulasande Sports Development programme which teaches the learners physical education and provides them with a nutritious meal to help them grow physically and remain healthy.

Another source of clean energy is nuclear. According to EDF’s Laurent-Olivier Coudeyre, the company has been, and remains active in new nuclear power plant design and construction. The company operates 72 GW of nuclear power in a number of countries.  The latest design, which is under construction at the Taishan power plant in China consists of two 1750 MW Gen III+ EPR reactors. The project is nearing completion, Coudeyre said.  The company, which is involved with NECSA’s SAFARI One medical isotope reactor in Pelindaba, says it is ready to assist the Department of Energy with its new nuclear power plants which would most probably be based on the same design as those under construction at Taishan, he added.

 

 

 

 

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