Enel Green Power Group: The light of innovation blows in South Africa

Enel has connected an 88 MW wind farm to the grid in Nojoli, South Africa, and launched a rural electrification project with Liter of Light, to bring sustainable light to the streets of its surrounding villages.

If innovation without borders is the future, innovation powered by green energy sets the stage for a sustainable and lasting development. In the southern province of Eastern Cape, South Africa, Enel’s Renewable business line has recently brought the large Nojoli wind farm into operation.

The plant, which is connected to the national grid, has a total installed capacity of 88 MW and will be able to generate more than 275 GWh per year, equivalent to the annual consumption of nearly 86 thousand South African households, avoiding the emission of more than 251 thousand tons of CO2 per year.

Just a few days after our first wind farm was brought into operation, a rural electrification project was launched in collaboration with the international NGO Liter of Light, affecting local communities within a radius of 50 km from the Nojoli facility.

The initiative took off in Somerset East, with a training workshop of 60 young people from four villages in the area (Somerset East, Cookhouse, Adelaide and Bedford). During the training session, Head of Enel’s Sustainability Projects and Practice Sharing Maria Cristina Papetti, and Giacomo Battaini from Liter of Light Italy, explained how to assemble, operate and repair a “Solar Bottle” – in other words, plastic bottles that have been turned into 55W solar power lamps.

A solar bottle offers a simple and sustainable solution to bring light even to areas that are not reached by the electrical grid, by using a transparent plastic bottle, water, an electrical circuit made with recycled materials, a LED light, a solar panel and a rechargeable lithium battery.

The Liter of Light volunteers also taught the group of young learners how to build innovative “solar lanterns”, an evolution of Solar Bottles, developed by the volunteers of the NGO’s Italian division, turning traditional kerosene lanterns – which are often used to make light by the poorest and most isolated populations of developing countries, despite the fact that they tend to be dangerous and highly pollutant – into a 100 percent green light source. The association will present this innovative solution at the European edition of the “Maker Faire” in Rome from October 14 to 16, an international event, born in California, that combines science, technology, science fiction, and do-it-yourself skills.

Once the course was completed, the 60 young people built 18 Solar Bottles and 25 lanterns and have begun to install lamps in the villages with the support of our technicians. The streets of Nojoli also saw the installation of some of the lamps made in the 2015 We Are Energy campus, an international competition for Enel employee children between the ages of eight and seventeen from the 22 countries in which we are present.

Transferring and sharing knowledge to promote sustainable development is the mission of the Liter of Light NGO, which operates in over 20 countries and with which Enel has signed a collaboration agreement and implemented various initiatives in Africa (Kenya) and Latin America.

In addition to the green light project, we have promoted the creation of two technological hubs in Bedford and Cookhouse in the Nojoli area, to allow communities to learn more about digital technologies and open up to the world of internet.

“We are neighbours – highlighted Enel Green Power South Africa CEO Bill Prince – and neighbours help each other. Bringing computers and the Internet to these communities means helping them grow, just like having worked with them to bring access to clean wind energy has allowed us to identify problems and solutions together. And that is precisely our group’s objective and business model.”