Gqi Raoleka is a founding member of the Pele Energy Group and the Managing Director of the renewable energy subsidiary, Pele Green Energy, which was founded in 2009.
He has a degree in Economics and Econometrics and an Honours degree in International and Monetary Finance from the University of Johannesburg.
Under Gqi’s leadership, Pele Green Energy has developed into one of the largest Independent Power Producers in South Africa with a portfolio of over 850 MW.
What is the aim of the project?
The project is a 36 MW Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) Solar Power plant. It provides solar renewable energy directly into the national grid. It forms part of the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
When was it launched?
In December 2017, the power plant would have reached its third year of operation. Power is being provided directly into the national grid to Eskom.
Is any new technology being used?
The project uses CPV modules or panels instead of the more regular Photovoltaic (PV) panels. The CPV modules allow for greater efficiencies in the energy generation. The CPV modules are mounted on dual axis trackers which allows the power plant to track the sun’s movement all day, leading to further improved efficiencies.
Who are the partners in the project?
Soitec is the CPV equipment supplier and a shareholder in the project. Pele Green Energy holds 35% of the project shareholding and the local community holds 5%. Group Five was the Balance of Plant provider and the project’s senior debt was funded through the raising of a bond on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
What is the community involvement?
Our power plant, CPV1, invests a share of annual revenues in the socio-economic and enterprise development of our host community, Touwsrivier. The community also owns 5% of the power plant. Our focus is on the economic revival of the community.
We have a 20-year licence to operate and intend to use our social investments to diversify and grow the local economy to ensure that the community becomes self-sustaining. We do this through Knowledge Pele, a development firm that delivers a series of targeted interventions which include a bursary programme for scarce skills; accredited enterprise development programmes for startup and existing SMMEs; and work experience programmes. The flagship intervention is the Community Industrialisation Programme. This establishes medium-sized manufacturing facilities in the Community to anchor economic development and job creation.
Are there particular challenges in the rural environment?
The biggest challenge to rural development is distance. Distance increases the costs of access to education, markets, healthcare and other social and cultural infrastructure. This therefore places a higher burden on rural communities, which can either isolate them further or inspire local innovation and self-sufficiency. Our approach in working with rural communities is on self-sufficiency. Instead of viewing these communities as labour reserves, we’ve taken a view to see them as economic hubs and we are working to help them achieve economic independence.
What other services do you deliver to the plant?
We fulfill and perform the asset management services for the power plant. As such we are responsible for systematic, coordinated activities and practices to ensure the plant delivers the prescribed energy performance and expected return on investment, with the added view to enhance the long-term quality and performance of the asset.
This is achieved, in part, through the day-to-day management of the power plant, including oversight over the appointed Operations & Maintenance service provider, but also focusing on continuous improvement and optimisation.
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