Rheinmetall begins solar construction of new power farm in Somerset West

In the hope of achieving its goal of carbon neutrality by 2035, Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) was joined by Western Cape Premier Alan Winde for the ground-breaking ceremony of RDM’s new R72 million solar power farm in Reeb Road, Macassar in Somerset West.

Construction of the 5MW solar power plant is scheduled to be completed before the end of the year and according to RDM, the project is not only an investment towards a greener future but will also create job opportunities for those in the surrounding community of Macassar.

The plant will be able to power RDM’s Somerset West operations and there is a high possibility that RDM will be exporting the clean surplus energy from the plant back to the grid. The company said its goal was to construct similar solutions for all RDM operations.

RDM CEO Jan-Patrick Helmsen said: “We are laying 9 204 solar panels with the capacity to generate over 4.2 million watts of AC power at our Somerset operations. Reducing our carbon footprint has been our motivation to invest in solar plants. At the same time, we are integrating this solar PV power plant with a fully automated backup power generation that can sustain the solar PV power output, which works like a mini power grid.”

Helmsen said this would ensure the RDM operation is immune from load shedding and added that incorporating renewable energy in operations has proven critical for sustainability and energy security.

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At the ceremony, Winde reiterated that the Western Cape was in the process of making four towns in the province load shedding-free through renewable energy and would be spending R1.2 billion over the next three years on its energy plan.

Winde added that the Western Cape government was also preparing “emergency power packs” for vulnerable households to assist during load shedding.

Some items being considered for inclusion in the emergency power packs are a rechargeable portable light, cellphone charging pack and possibly a hot/cold food bag.

The premier thanked Rheinmetall for being part of the energy solution as the company had also announced that it was sharing its innovation with its neighbour, the Bundle of Joy preschool, which is now solar-powered.

The company said this was all part of RMD’s plan to establish itself as one of South Africa’s energy suppliers for Africa and for the export markets with localisation of solar PV, export of green hydrogen, and the production of mobile green hydrogen plants as an independent power solution for various applications.

RDM is also in the process of replacing its combustion engine with e-mobility in the plant.