Breweries are some of the largest energy consumers in the C&I sector. These large facilities will benefit a lot from installing grid-tied solar power plants to offset the more expensive grid electricity during the day. The reduction of solar panel prices over the last decade has made financing of large distributed solar plants quite compelling, as solar tariffs for corporate PPAs are now much cheaper than grid tariffs in most parts of the African continent. Technological advancements coupled with the reduction in the prices of lithium-ion battery storage has also made the case for adoption of battery storage in markets with weak and intermittent grids much stronger. This means we should start to see more of these projects take off in the C&I space on the continent.
Recently, HEINEKEN’s Sedibeng Brewery in South Africa got a 6.5 MW solar PV plant. The solar plant has 14,000 panels adding up to an installed capacity of over 6.5 MW. The solar plant now provides 30% of the brewery’s electricity requirements. The 19 ha project will generate 17,000 MWh per annum.
Now in West Africa, Nigerian Breweries Plc, also a member of the HEINEKEN Group and Nigeria’s largest brewing company, is also expanding its solar rollout. In partnership with CrossBoundary Energy, Nigerian Breweries will expand the current renewable energy system at its Ibadan Brewery from a 663 kWp solar PV plant to a hybrid solar-plus-storage facility consisting of a 3 MWp solar PV system and a 2 MW/2 MWh battery energy storage system (BESS). Nigerian Breweries Ama brewery will also receive a 4 MWp solar PV plant and a 2 MW/2 MWh BESS. The solar plants combined will supply approximately 10 GWh annually to the Ibadan and Ama breweries at a significant discount to their current cost of power. This project will reduce the site’s CO2 emissions by 100,000 tonnes over the lifespan of the plants.
CrossBoundary Energy will fully finance the development and construction of the Ibadan and Ama renewable energy facilities, and will operate both facilities as part of a 15-year solar services agreement with Nigerian Breweries. Under the agreement, Nigerian Breweries will only pay for the solar power produced, receiving a single monthly bill that incorporates all maintenance, monitoring, insurance, and financing costs.
CrossBoundary Energy has engaged Soventix to design and build both solar plants, and DHYBRID Power Systems to design and supply the BESS and hybrid control system for both projects. Upon completion of construction, Soventix will also provide operations and maintenance services for both facilities. The projects will support the local employment of approximately 80 people during the construction phase, and at least two dozen people when the plants are operational.
These megawatt-scale distributed renewable energy projects, coupled with energy storage when deployed at scale in the C&I sector, can play a huge role in easing some pressure on the electricity grid as well as advancing the penetration of renewable energy. Utility companies and central governments or municipalities stand to benefit from this quite significantly in terms of stuff like investment deferrals.