RDM investing R251 million in renewable energy in South Africa

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During the recent fifth South Africa Investment Conference (SAIC), Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) committed to investing R251 million in the renewable energy sector in South Africa.

Rheinmetall in South Africa said it is establishing itself as an energy supplier for South Africa and the export market focusing on the localization of solar farms, the export of green hydrogen, and the production of mobile green hydrogen plants as independent power solutions for various applications, including field hospitals, military field camps, and rural energy needs. Rheinmetall in South Africa has already started with its first 5 MW solar power plant in the Western Cape. It will be completed by the end of 2023 as part of its commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2035. The goal is to provide an alternative to the grid and solve load shedding.

Following the 13 April investment conference, President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that his R1.2 trillion investment target over five years had been exceeded, saying that more than R1.5 trillion had been “raised” or “pledged” in that time. The pledges received at the 5th SAIC amounted to R332 billion. The next goal is to motivate investments of R2 trillion by 2028.

An array of pledges were made this year in key areas in the economy. Among them were pledges made in the digital economy, which saw R3.8 billion pledged by Equinix to develop new data centres in South Africa. Meanwhile, Teraco made their fourth announcement this year, investing a further R2 billion to expand their data centre capacity and developing renewable energy projects to supply their data centres in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

In the manufacturing sector, Alpha Manufacturing is investing R2 billion in recycling, packaging and manufacturing facilities in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal and Defy pledged for the third time by investing R288 million in their white goods manufacturing facilities in KwaZulu-Natal.

Several companies have also pledged to invest in the country’s Special Economic Zones (SEZ).

Vodacom is among the companies that have pledged to invest in the global business services, ICT and digital services category. At the fifth conference, the company announced that it has pledged an additional R60 billion over the next five years.

Rheinmetall Denel Munition CEO Jan Patrick Helmsen said: “Next to our export rate of 99%, we want to become the energy partner for South Africa to support resolving the energy crisis. We remain committed to contributing to South Africa’s future through investing in technology, especially renewable energy and infrastructure, and developing and upskilling our people in South Africa.”

During the September 2022 edition of the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition, RDM launched its green hydrogen production, storage and transportation solution. This is a complete modular, self-sustaining, renewable de-centralised energy solution. The GESS (green energy sustainable solutions) unit is easy to transport, does not rely on external infrastructure and is robust enough to operate efficiently in several geographical locations. The GESS unit is able to provide approximately 230 kWh of electrical power to a client in a remote and isolated location. This is delivered by means of solar PV panels, lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen fuel cell technology (platinum-catalysed hydrogen proton exchange membrane fuel cell or PEMFC).

RDM’s aspiration to become a world leader in the field of the production and supply of green hydrogen is part of its massive investment in South Africa. Since the existing joint venture began in 2008, when Rheinmetall Waffe Munition bought a controlling share in Denel Munition and formed RDM, the company has invested R1 billion in infrastructure, R1.5 billion in technology and product development, R200 million in training and bursaries, R100 million in skills development levies, and R400 million in third-party income tax.