By Chantelle Kotzé
April 20th, 2012
South African electric equipment sup- plier Zest WEG Group, through its subsidiary company, Zest Energy, and in collaboration with an engineering, procurement and construction management contractor, has been awarded a contract by water and sanitation services provider Johannesburg Water for the delivery of a 1.2 MW biogas power generation plant.
“We have noticed a trend towards using biogas to generate power, and are proud to confirm our first biogas project with Johan-nesburg Water,” says Zest WEG Group sales and marketing director Gary Daines.
The contract, awarded in November last year, entails the supply of modular gas engines, as well as an integrated electrical system, which takes clean methane gas generated from the digesters within the water treatment facility and transforms it into electrical power.
The plant will initially generate 1.2 MW of power, but has the potential to produce increased power outputs, depending on the future availability of biogas. The plant will supplement the water utility’s current power supply and reduce its overall running costs.
“This is the first project of its kind and magnitude in South Africa and we hope that the successful commissioning of this project will lead to other munici- palities and water treatment facilities gaining confidence to support and implement this type of electricity generation project at their facilities,” states Daines.
He adds that an additional benefit for the company is that the project is based on a payback structure that allows for the capital costs of the project to be, in essence, paid back to the company over time, as it supplements its own power needs.
The company reports that it is currently installing the modular gas units that will be commissioned at the end of July.
Meanwhile, the majority shareholder in Zest WEG Group, Brazilian electrical equipment manufacturer WEG, has introduced steam turbines produced by its Brazilian technology partners to the South African market. This is as a result of similar power generation opportunities, already identified and brought to fruition in Brazil, being released in South Africa’s sugar and pulp and paper industries.
“We want to bring cogeneration to the South African market through industries that have excess steam for power generation, which can be generated into power and used to supplement electricity supply or to sell back to the grid,” explains Daines.
The company hopes to break into the independent power producer (IPP) market as a technology partner and supply these steam turbines to renewable- energy projects.
“Since IPPs have gained momentum, there are numerous opportunities to generate power from an array of sources, such as gas, hydro, wind and solar, and we should see IPPs develop at an incredible rate,” says Daines.
The company believes that it can gain valuable knowledge of green power technology from its Brazilian shareholder, WEG, as 85% of Brazil’s power is clean power produced through hydroelectric technologies.
Zest WEG Group says it is dedicated to skills training and has skills programmes in place as well as its own training facility and a dedicated training officer.
It is especially focused on skills training in maintenance and efficient long-term operations.
The company feels that there is a need to contribute to the skills within the country’s resource base and maintains that, if other organisations followed the same strategy and committed themselves to training small segments of the resource base, the skills shortage could be dealt with, Daines states.
- South Africa: Rush for renewable energy (apperi.org)