BioTherm Energy has come a long way in 12 years. From starting out as an emerging developer of gas and cogeneration projects, it has grown into a renewable energy powerhouse. The company has secured the rights to develop more than 250 megawatts of wind and solar capacity across seven African countries, and currently has three operational wind and solar projects in South Africa. Leading BioTherm in its many triumphs is CEO and Executive Director Jasandra Nyker, who as well as being on the board of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) has been named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders. Here, she tells Juliet Langton how BioTherm got to where it is today and what’s next for Africa’s leading green IPP.
How did the company come to switch its focus from gas to renewable energy?
BioTherm Energy has one operational 4.2-megawatt Biogas Project at the PetroSA refinery in Mosselbay, Eastern Cape Province. This project was the first non-recourse project financed Independent Power Producer (IPP) deal to be concluded in South Africa, as well as the first project to successfully register and monetise Carbon Credits in South Africa. In June of 2009, with the announcement of the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, BioTherm initiated its wind and solar business development platform. The company was seeking to take advantage of the power shortages and steep tariff increases in South Africa by offering sustainable, cost-effective energy solutions. Today BioTherm is one of the leading renewable energy players in Africa and has a growing pipeline of wind and solar projects geographically spread across the continent.
What makes BioTherm Energy Africa’s leading IPP?
There are several elements that make BioTherm Energy uniquely poised as a leading IPP in Africa.
BioTherm has created a fully vertically integrated development team who can deliver across all stages of wind and solar development activities, including project sourcing, site development, project financing, construction and operation of its projects. The current team has more than 100 years of wind and solar development and investment expertise, with a successful track record of more than 1,000 megawatts of projects built and operational in the US and Europe. Further to this, the team has approximately 30 years and more than 10 gigawatts of related power experience.
BioTherm Energy has a proven track record, with four operational facilities totalling more than 50 megawatts in Africa; these were completed on time and under budget.
The company has strong financial backing, Denham Capital Management LP, a leading energy and commodities focused global private equity firm (www.denhamcapital.com) with more than US$ 7.9 billion of assets under management, committed an equity investment of up to $150 million in 2008 to BioTherm to build and acquire a pipeline of renewable energy projects. At the time of making this investment, this transaction was the largest renewable energy investment in Africa. BioTherm Energy develops, finances, owns and operates its energy facilities, enabling it to offer full turnkey solutions for renewable energy projects of all sizes.
What company strengths have allowed BioTherm to stand out from the crowd and secure more than 250MW in Africa?
BioTherm Energy has many strengths as a leading African renewable energy IPP.
What is BioTherm working on currently?
The company recently secured preferred bidder appointment for three projects comprising 251 megawatts in Round 4 of the South African Renewable Energy IPP programme. These include the 120-megawatt Golden Valley Wind facility, 45-megawatt Aggeneys Solar PV and 86-megawatt Konkoonsies II Solar PV Facility. In addition to being awarded preferred bidder status for the wind and solar projects in South Africa, the company has garnered success in the rest of Africa. It was awarded preferred bidder status on four solar projects in Zambia and secured two preferred bidder solar projects in Burkina Faso. BioTherm was also a finalist in the Ugandan GET FiT solar facility programme, and is actively developing greenfield opportunities in East and West Africa. BioTherm will continue to expand its portfolio in both South Africa and the rest of Africa.
What is BioTherm’s long-term strategy and aspiration?
BioTherm’s focus on the rest of Africa is equally important as its growth strategy in South Africa, with the company’s long-term plan to be the leading renewables IPP in Africa. Regionalised growth of renewable energy such as wind or solar offers significant economic development and assists in improving the local manufacturing and services value chain. The recent announcement of the REIPPP Round 4 projects adds to the continent’s energy evolution and is a further step towards establishing a sustainable, low-carbon environment. We are committed to being a leader in Africa’s renewable energy rollout by ensuring that its projects are built on time and on budget, and create sustainable economic development in the communities in which they operate.