Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), a South African caliber ammunition developer, has launched the construction of a solar power plant at its manufacturing plant near Somerset West. The solar energy project, worth R72 million, aims to support RDM’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035.
The 5 MWp solar power plant is scheduled for completion by the end of the year and is expected to create job opportunities for the locals in the town of Macassar. Once operational, the photovoltaic plant will provide sufficient energy to power the RDM plant’s operations. RDM also plans to export the surplus energy generated by the solar power plant back to the grid.
Jan-Patrick Helmsen, CEO of RDM, emphasized the environmental benefits of the solar plant. According to Helmsen clean energy plant will be equipped with 9,204 solar panels and is expected to generate more than 4.2 MWac power for their Somerset operations. The plant will also be integrated with a fully-automated backup power generation system to ensure a continuous power supply, making RDM immune to load shedding.
The new solar plant in Somerset West will help RDM enhance sustainability and energy security. It aligns with RDM’s renewable energy strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. The company envisions implementing similar renewable energy solutions across all its operations.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, who attended the ground-breaking ceremony of RDM’s new solar plant, commended Rheinmetall for their contribution to the energy solution and the effort in sharing innovation with neighboring establishments, which now operate on solar power.
Winde also highlighted the province’s commitment to renewable energy including the plan of investing R1.2 billion (more than $60 million) over the next three years to make four towns in the Western Cape load-shedding-free. Additionally, the government is preparing “emergency power packs” for vulnerable households to mitigate the impact of load shedding.
Rheinmetall plans to localize solar PV production, export green hydrogen, and develop mobile green hydrogen plants as independent power solutions for various applications. The company introduced electric vehicles and solar-power stations at the Somerset West location last year with the aim of transitioning from combustion engines to e-mobility within their plant.
At the 5th Presidential Investment Forum held in April 2023, RDM also committed to investing R251 million in clean energy across South Africa. These initiatives signify RDM’s vision to play a significant role in the energy sector in the country and beyond.