South Africa’s Eastern Cape is becoming an African hotspot for green energy component manufacturing and technology, according to head of the Coega Development Corporation (CDC).

Sandisiwe Ncemane, investment manager: energy division at CDC, the operator of the Coega Industrial Development Zone, in Nelson Mandela Bay, confirmed that in the 2013/14 financial year, the area had secured foreign investment close to ZAR1 billion for green energy component manufacturing.

China’s solar module maker JA Solar is among last year’s investors as well as South Africa’s Powerway, which has now opened a ZAR660 million solar module manufacturing facility. A further ZAR127 million renewable energy components manufacturing facility owned by Powerway and China’s Sungrow will go into production within the year.

A new ground-mounted solar energy harvesting plant was also commissioned for the Coega IDZ and announced by the CDC earlier this month.

The ZAR300 million Wind Towers production facility of South African company DCD also went online this year, and the plant will have an estimated annual production output of 110 and 120 wind towers.

Ms Ncemane said: “The CDC profile as a green technology manufacturing hub of South Africa has gained traction in renewable energy projects. On-grid and off-grid green energy component manufacturing, which includes wind towers and solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, in the Coega IDZ is alive and well.”

She added: “These investments are critical in supporting 64 renewable energy projects valued at ZAR100-billion approved by South African government since 2011, which will produce 3 900 megawatts (MW) for South Africa’s energy mix through wind, solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar power.”

Pro investment regulations

Commenting on government efforts to improve the desirability of special economic zones (SEZ), Dr Ayanda Vilakazi, CDC head of marketing and communications, said the new SEZ Act has introduced significant tax benefits, a reduction of red tape and labour productivity-enhancing mechanisms to investors.

Dr Vilakazi said Nelson Mandela Bay’s has a long-standing position as an industrial and manufacturing economic hub and, the availability of deep-water sea port, and a commitment towards green energy research by our local university.

“The sum of these parts provide a unique arrangement of value propositions which is driving the attraction for foreign and local investment in the Coega IDZ,” concluded Dr. Vilakazi.