AES is one of the few energy plant Operations and Maintenance (O&M) companies in South Africa with the first-hand experience of operating renewable power generating plant in South Africa. Additionally, AES focuses on being the behind the scenes partner to project developers on these types of projects, rather than taking a high profile approach and developing projects of this nature itself. The reality is that the uptake on renewable energy projects to diversify the energy mix in South Africa requires technical skills concerning operations and maintenance, and that is where AES focuses its activities.
AES has previously operated a biomass power generation facility with a 6 MWe installed capacity and did so for nine years before the plant was mothballed due to age. In the interim, AES has participated in various government lead initiatives around co-generation, Independent Power Producer (IPP) and renewables power programmes. In most cases acting as a technical partner in the development of solutions and operations modelling, but always with the intention of being the designated Operations & Maintenance (O&M) partner.
These activities have covered biomass to energy, biomass to power, waste gas utilisation (power and thermal), solar power generation and wind power projects.
AES continues to work with its client-partners to incorporate the use of renewables into its industrial process energy operations. Evaluations have been undertaken on solar water heating to reduce fuel input on steam plant, solar electricity to offset grid electricity use on the steam plant, waste utilisation (fermentation, anaerobic digestion) for use as process fuel or in a generator to offset grid electricity. In a lot of instances, the barrier to entry remains the capital cost of the installations and the long paybacks, however as the need for sustainability in business increases, so the evaluation criteria for these types of projects change, and more and more opportunities approach a point of being considered viable by partner client management.
AES are able to guide current and prospective client-partners on their specific objectives concerning the use of renewables and sustainability and develop bespoke solutions for their needs.