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By Donné Nieman, Sales Director, Western Cape at Workforce Staffing & Barend Matthee, National Projects Director at Workforce Holdings

Funding for Independent Power Producers (IPPs) is set to rise over the short to medium term from about R29 billion to around R50 billion. Earlier this year, the government removed the 100-megawatt limit on private power generation, giving companies the go-ahead to produce electricity to meet their own needs without a license and to sell to the grid. Effectively unshackling the private sector in an attempt to make headway on addressing South Africa’s deepening energy crisis, the demand for funding for the Renewable Independent Power Producer Program (REIPPP) is likely to rise, and South African banks have signalled their readiness to go beyond the R50 billion forecast. Given the urgency of solving SA’s energy crisis, businesses participating in the REIPPP must have the necessary labour component to set up operations quickly and effectively. Here, a Temporary Employment Services (TES) provider can ensure that unnecessary delays are avoided and that projects are rolled out to actualisation.

Time is of the essence

The REIPPP was first introduced in 2011 to implement the objectives of the Integrated Resource Plan and dial back our reliance on fossil-fired power generation like coal and crude oil. Intended to leverage the opportunities of a greener economy, projects related to the Programme would create new sustainability-focused industries with at least 300 000 jobs. Such projects have to date supplied the national grid with 56 206 GWh of renewable energy, with fourteen projects started or currently being built. In the aftermath of the June 2022 Stage 6 load shedding, it was announced that Bid Window 6 of the Project will double the amount procured from 2,600 MW to 5,200 MW with 3,200MW allocated for wind and 1000 MW for Solar PV. Furthermore, by removing the 100 MW cap on private generation, solar and wind power projects can be used to bring an additional 10 000 MW of capacity online within 2–3 years. As such, focusing on such quick-win solutions to take action in solving South Africa’s energy crisis must be a priority.

Looking to a TES provider in the initiation phase of the renewable energy projects will be critical in assisting IPPs to accelerate, scale up and get projects off the ground quickly. This is because a TES provider is capable of handling the entire labour and human resources component of any renewable project. For IPPs, labour and human resource management is not their core business. Having to handle recruitment and manage a labour force to roll out their project plan is time-consuming and detracts from their purpose, and a TES provider is capable of taking over the entire recruitment and onboarding process. From locating the specialist skills required, right through to payroll management and HR and IR management. Furthermore, the right TES provider can speed up time-to-benefit within the renewable energy sector and ensure that IPPs comply with all health and safety and labour law regulations.

These projects will also have positive ripple effects on the economy as a whole and the people of South Africa. The imminent private sector uptake will be one of the key catalysts in the short and medium terms, especially driving Small, Micro And Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) socio-economic development linked to sustainable development ventures. The importance of these ripple effects cannot be understated or overlooked. With this in mind, IPPs and private sector organisations need to ensure their industry partners can provide support for every facet of their project and its operations. The right TES partner can handle all human elements – community stakeholder engagement and enterprise and supplier development – in addition to handling the skills and labour force required to plan, build, roll out, run and maintain such power projects.

As new entrants to the industry, IPPs will benefit immensely from partnering with a TES provider that has a national (and international) capability footprint, from a labour, logistics, skills and procurement perspective. Such players will also benefit from the financial stability of a TES partner, who will carry the correct payment of staff while working on outcome-based payment structures. In this way, a TES partner is more than a third-party labour provider, forming part of the organisational structure and becoming an integral component of the project, fully invested in the outcome. They will provide a solid foundation for IPPs and businesses, in terms of lessons learned, infrastructure support, financial stability and industry expertise. Ultimately, the right TES partner will be the driving force behind best practice implementation at every phase of the project, and instrumental in supporting stakeholder engagement and assisting vulnerable communities in achieving inclusivity to truly benefit as part of the project ecosystem.

A fitting TES partner must be agile, capable and experienced, supporting their clients in the growing renewables industry with an end-to-end employee-centric solution. Such a partner will ensure that the IPP or private sector organisation meets all its obligations in terms of local content. This partner will understand the skills required, will be able to handle sourcing, stakeholder engagement, training, employee interventions, wellness programmes, recruitment, technology, health and safety solutions, and provide procurement support. This is critical given that a large portion of these projects will be extremely remote.

Ultimately, the most important role that a TES provider can play is to dramatically increase the rate of success. Renewable energy projects fail more often than they succeed – the failure rate of a project hovers somewhere between 60 and 70% for a variety of reasons, including market difficulties, negative environmental impacts and regulatory delays. But by choosing their partners carefully, IPPs can set themselves up for project success, by relying on the TES partner’s expertise. By involving a TES partner from as early as the conceptual stage, an IPP can greatly reduce their stress and improve their outcome by conducting a premortem (as opposed to a post-mortem after the project has failed) to evaluate, plan, and cover all bases and mitigate risk before the project starts, to ensure that it is kicked off and carried out with a successful completion mindset from the start.

 

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