1. Landing the big fish
Established in 2009, Pele Green Energy (PGE) recently signed an agreement with the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers’ Procurement Programme.
2. Beating other bidders
“The department wanted to procure 3 725MW of renewable energy from independent power producers,” says co-founder Boipelo Moloabi. “We went through a competitive bidding process with our technology and engineering, procurement and construction partners. We were chosen to be among the first solar companies that will supply electricity to the South African national grid.”
3. Finding a gap
The founders saw a gap in the market for developing energy initiatives in Africa through the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism in return for carbon credits. “We all have diverse backgrounds and experiences and chose to leave the corporate world and contribute to economic, environmental and social sustainability, while making a profit too. We define ourselves as a company with a socio-economic development mandate that develops, owns and operates renewable energy generation power plants. Our first job was a social and financial feasibility study of a landfill-to-gas energy project in Eritrea.”
4. Taking on a new sector
The DoE pitch was not without its challenges, including a changing timetable. ”We appreciate that liberalising energy generation in the country is a tough exercise. Historically, it’s been the sole responsibility of Eskom, so the introduction of new, independent actors using alternative sources to generate power creates complexities which we are all learning to overcome,” says Moloabi.
5. Profit = social gains
PGE is on a mission to make a positive impact on Africa’s social and economic landscape, while also pioneering a new model of doing business in Africa – where the expansion of business gains is mirrored in social development gains.
“We’ve seen that there are no short cuts in business and that patience is key,” says Thapelo Motlogeloa. “In our case, this kind of procurement process had never been seen anywhere else in the world and we only appreciated this once the agreements were signed.”
The team stresses that it’s imperative to share knowledge gathered through different experiences. “Because of the large number of stakeholders and the bureaucracy within government you must always have a long-term outlook – five to seven to ten year investment plans and scenario building – that aligns with government’s long-term outlook,” adds Motlogeloa.
“Profit is not the only metric that matters today. Sustainability and continued community development are equally important for any industry.”