Solar Turtle of South Africa wins technology award at African Utility Week


More than 750 top level power and water professionals attended the fourth edition of the African Utility Week Industry Awards ceremony which honoured pioneering utilities, projects and people in the energy and water industry on the continent.

Three of the awards categories at the 2017 African Utility Week Industry Awards that were announced at the CTICC in Cape Town last week, namely Lifetime Achievement, Outstanding Contribution to Power as well as Young Energy Leader Award, were won by women.

Here’s the complete list of winners of the African Utility Week Industry Awards:

Lifetime achievement award: Helen Tarnoy, co-founder and MD, Aldwych International, UK, an engineering company that has been involved in some of the most successful independent power projects on the African continent.

Helen has been a passionate devotee to the African power market since her first contact with it in the mid-1990s. Her first major success was to lead the recovery and eventual success of the Songas Gas to Power Project in Tanzania. Following on the success of the Songas Project, Helen actively participated in all phases of several other AES successes in Africa including the acquisition and successful construction of the Ebute Power Project in Lagos, the privatisation and early operation of the Kelvin Power Plant in Johannesburg and the acquisition of a majority position in the Sonel vertically integrated utility in Cameroon.

Outstanding contribution award (Water): Philip Gichuki, MD, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company, Kenya. As the MD of Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company, Eng Gichuki is responsible for running all facets of the business. He has a proven executive management track record and over 20 years of experience in managing growth in the water and sanitation sector. Most notable in his management of the company is the innovative inclusion of low income (informal) settlement communities as partners (customers). In 2016, the company participated in the planting of over 150,000 trees in catchment areas to help deal with climate change. Eng. Gichuki has been instrumental in guiding the sector to develop county specific implementation plans.

Outstanding Woman of the Year in Power/Water: Rose Kaggwa, Director: Business and Scientific Services, National Water and Sewerage Corporation, Uganda.

Ms Kaggwa has spearheaded the development and implementation of vocational training and skills development of plumbers and Electromechanical technicians within the NWSC which has benefited over 500 staff and contributed to the operational efficiency of the organisation. She’s the first African to sit on the UNESCO – International Hydrological Progamme Advisory Board for human settlement, water and sanitation and holds the position of Vice President. In 2017 she was awarded the Golden Jubilee Award for excellence in leadership in service delivery by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni.

Power Utility of the Year: Ethiopian Electric Power, Ethiopia. Mr Abeb Kahsay, Executive Officer of EEP received this very prestigious award for the companyEthiopia strives to be the hub of renewably sourced energy in the region and beyond. Ethiopian Electric Power is instrumental to this ambitious plan. EEP is a sole provider of bulk electricity to users, mainly to the Ethiopian Electric Utility; direct industrial customers; and exports to neighbouring countries. Djibouti and the Sudan are connected to Ethiopia by a high-voltage power line.

EEP operates and maintains more than 12 hydropower and three wind power plants distributed in different parts of the country with installed capacity of more than 4290MW, including the Gibe III plant (1870MW). There are two major hydropower projects under construction, namely the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (6000MW) and GenaleDawa 3 (254MW).

Water Utility of the Year: Lilongwe Water Board, Malawi. The award was presented to Alfonso Chikuni , CEO of Lilongwe Water Board.

The Lilongwe Water Board is a statutory organisation that supplies water to the residents of Lilongwe, the capital City of Malawi and its surrounding areas. Currently, Lilongwe City has a population of about 1,000,000 and the company serves around 70% of the population. There are about 65,000 metered customers and more than 700 water Kiosks (communal water selling points) within the City. The total pipe network for LWB is estimated at 1,600 Km. 
Successes in 2016/17 include the significant strides it has made in the reduction of Non-Revenue Water from around 41% in January 2016 to 26% by December 2016 thereby offering a cheaper water source in a way and by increasing capacity to deliver services by initiation and completion of infrastructure projects.

Large Scale Renewable Energy Project (10MW+): Bokpoort CSP Power Plant, ACWA Power, ACWA POWER, South Africa. Nandu D Bhula is the CEO of the power plant.

ACCIONA, SENER and TSK built Concentrated Solar Power plant in South Africa set a new African record for the continuous, round the clock supply of electricity. Within the first month of commercial operation, the newly-inaugurated 50 MW Bokpoort CSP plant, produced electricity for a continuous period of 161 hours, equivalent to almost six days. Bokpoort CSP’s 50MW is equal to powering 21 000 households and has over 8 600 collectors at the plant with more than 136 000 mirrors. At its construction peak, over 1 300 jobs were created at the plant, filled largely by the local community previously dependent on farm work.

Small-Scale Sustainable Energy Project (under 5MW): Stortemelk Hydro, Renewable Energy Holdings, South Africa. Award presented to Anton-Louis Olivier, the firm’s MD.

Stortemelk Hydro RF is located in Clarens in the Free State, South Africa and has a capacity of 4.5MW. The Stortemelk Hydro will result in a reduction of 540 000 tons of CO2 emissions over its 20 year life span and was constructed on an existing dam. The Hydro is the first to use a vertical Kaplan turbine and air cooled indoor transformers in hydro power in South Africa. The highly integrated and compact design reduces operational risk and maintenance costs. The project was constructed on time and on budget with 98% availability in the first 6 months.

Technology of the Year: Solar Turtle, South Africa, presented to James van der Walt, CEO of the company. The SolarTurtle is an ultra-secure solar powered MU in a box. Shipping containers are converted into small, mobile solar power stations. These SolarTurtles are designed for off-grid schools where conventional solar PV solutions will not work. In crime-ridden areas across Africa traditional solar PV solutions have failed. The solar panels are typically stolen within a few months of deployment. The problem is so severe that the Gauteng provincial government was prepared to dismiss solar power as a possible electricity solution for schools and community centres.

The SolarTurtle is a solar kiosk designed for unparalleled security and maximum portability. These container-based solar kiosks are assembled off site then deployed by simply offloading the container and unfolding the panels towards the sun. In the morning when it is safe the panels are unfolded from their secure location to feed from the rays of the sun. In the evening when it is unsafe the panels are folded away into the hard shell of the container. The power from the SolarTurtle feeds the school and a small woman-owned solar kiosk business inside the container.

Deal of the Year: 100MW Kathu Solar Park Project, Engie, South Africa. Award was presented to Maarten van der Horst, Director and Chief Business Development for power and gas investments atENGIE Africa.

In July 2016 a consortium led by French multinational electric utility company Engie achieved financial close on the 100MW Kathu Solar Park project in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. Developed by the consortium, the park is sponsored by the SIOC Community Development Trust, Lereko Metier, Public Investment Corporation, Investec Bank, and the Kathu Local Community Trust. Lenders on the project are Rand Merchant Bank, Nedbank Capital, ABSA Capital, Investec, and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. Once in operation, Kathu Solar Park will have the capacity to supply 80,000 households across South Africa and will help reduce carbon emissions by 300,000t every year. The solar project is expected to be connected to the grid by the end of 2018, supplying clean and dispatchable electricity to the South African power utility Eskom under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Outstanding Contribution Award (Power): Charlotte Aubin-Kalaidjian, Founding Partner, GreenWish Partners, France, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire & Nigeria

Charlotte Aubin-Kalaidjian is founder and CEO of GreenWish Partners, the independent power producer dedicated to renewable energies in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the past 12 months, GreenWish led the development, structuring and financing of the Senergy 2 solar PV plant, the first solar Independent Power Producer in West Africa. Charlotte’s commitment to the sustainable development of Africa is also demonstrated by her involvement and board positions in the R20 NGO dedicated to climate change actions, the Women in Africa Initiative, as well as sponsor and Jury Member of the Energy Generation Academy out of Lomé, Togo. She also acts as business angel and mentor with a focus on social and environmental entrepreneurs as well as young artists. She has initiated an ambitious Photo Project “Solar Magic” with Initiative for Global Development to illustrate the potential of solar on Africa society, economy and environment.

Young Energy Leader: Fatima Oyiza Ademoh, Founder & CEO, Ajima Youth Empowerment Foundation, Nigeria.

Fatima Ademoh is an energy and finance specialist and currently serves as the Project Developer in the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) funded off-grid Renewable Energy project being implemented by Ajima Farms in Nigeria. In this capacity, she led the preparation of funding proposal that secured US$150,000 grant in the USADF Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge.

More than 170 entries were received for the African Utility Week Industry Awards while IT firm Huawei was the lead sponsor of the event.