Anglo American is taking its South African operations – all 19 of them – completely off-grid.
Last week it announced that an agreement had been reached with global renewables company EDF Renewables to develop a regional renewable energy ecosystem (RREE) that will wean Anglo’s South African operations 100% off the grid by 2030. The group plans to be carbon-neutral by 2040.
Not only will this ease capacity pressures on the Eskom grid, it will also help decarbonise the electricity network in SA.
Anglo American has already secured 100% renewable electricity supply for all its operations in South America, and the group expects to source 56% of its global electricity needs from renewables by 2023.
At its recent 2021 annual results presentation, Anglo indicated that it intends to have three solar power plants in operation in SA by 2023, with hydrogen trucks being piloted this year. De Beers also plans to be carbon-neutral across all its operations by 2030.
The partnership with EDF Renewables is aimed at curtailing the largest single source of Anglo’s Scope 2 emissions, being its current grid supply in South Africa. Scope 2 emissions are indirect greenhouse gas emissions associated with the purchase of electricity from Eskom.
The RREE aims to support South Africa’s decarbonisation ambitions and the country’s Just Energy Transition, creating a sustainable and inclusive future, says Anglo.
The group plans to spend between $200 million and $500 million a year across all its operations to more precisely target metals and minerals using less water and energy and reducing waste.
It is currently developing the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mining truck to decarbonise its transport fleet. The concept has already been tested and a 40-truck roll-out is planned for 2024, powered by a local solar plant.
Anglo has outlined a host of technologies that it says will bring it closer to its goal of carbon neutrality, including pumped hydro storage and CO2 sequestration.
The RREE will draw on South Africa’s natural renewable energy potential to develop a network of on-site and off-site solar and wind farms, says Anglo. This will enable it to generate and deliver renewable energy to its SA operations 24/7.
Anglo says it anticipates the renewable infrastructure investment will come from a combination of equity and debt financing.
The EDF Renewables partnership is expected to bring benefits to SA and the region, including:
- 3-5GW of renewable electricity (solar and wind) and storage over the next decade;
- Supporting decarbonisation across Southern Africa; and
- Stimulating the development of new economic sectors, local production and supply chains.
Nolitha Fakude, chair of Anglo American’s management board in SA, says the renewable energy drive is also an opportunity to support black economic empowerment and local community partnerships.