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South Africa's First Utility-Scale Solar Project Celebrates a Decade of Clean Energy and Social Upliftment

The RustMo1 Solar Project, South Africa's pioneering utility-scale clean energy project, celebrates a decade of successful operation and community impact. A beacon of success in private-public partnerships, the project has blazed a trail in collaboration, providing a proven model for large renewables procurement projects. With 17% of project dividends supporting a community development trust and a strong emphasis on skills development and women’s empowerment, the project exemplifies the critical role of renewable energy projects in social upliftment.
December 05, 2023 | International | Solar

The RustMo1 Solar Project, the first renewable energy project developed under South Africa’s large renewables tender programme, the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REI4P), is marking 10 years of clean energy production. 

The trailblazing 7 megawatt (MW) project, which has been generating around 12.5 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually, enough to power several thousand low-income homes, has provided a formative precedent for powering South Africa’s just energy transition and addressing the energy crisis. With the Development Bank of South Africa presently reviewing tenders to replace the REI4P, RustMo1 as the very first REI4P project also serves as a successful clean energy private-public partnership model for Africa. 

Developed by Momentous Energy and now owned together with Reatile Renewables, the 19 hectare project site, located 22 kilometres outside of Rustenburg, was constructed and is operated by JUWI Renewable Energies South Africa, a leading renewable energy company. In close collaboration with national utility, Eskom, and the IPP Office, project debt was provided by The Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) and financial services group, Nedbank

"The RustMo1 Solar Project exemplifies the profound importance and power of private-public partnerships in steering the world toward clean energy, with us pioneering on financial close, project agreements, and so on, that still remain in use across the independent power producers (IPP) industry today,” said Dr Pravin Semnarayan, CEO, Momentous Energy. “It has truly been a joint effort, requiring deep commitment and collaboration from various institutions dedicated to advancing our country’s energy transition over the past decade." 

“As the first REI4P project, RustMo1 demanded constant innovation and creative problem-solving from the JUWI and Momentous Energy teams and partners, navigating uncharted waters,” said Richard Doyle, Managing Director, JUWI Renewable Energies. “With no national grid rules in place during the project’s commissioning, the partners worked closely with the Renewable Energy Technical Evaluation Committee (RETEC) to create the grid code, now guiding all solar plants connecting to the grid.” 

According to Ramona Mohanlall, COO of RustMo1, one of the most inspirational and fulfilling outcomes of the project has been its contribution to community and skills development, and to women’s empowerment. “With 17% of dividends from the project funding a community trust (instead of the usual 2.5% required by the REI4P), profits have supported early childhood development education for 250 young children, provided meals for 700 children during the COVID pandemic, and financed safe, flushing toilets to replace dangerous pit latrines,” said Mohanlall. “Our community-focused initiatives have yielded remarkable results, from supporting Retief Primary School, to producing the top matriculant student in the North West Province in 2022.” 

The project’s skills development and women's empowerment initiatives have paid off too, according to Dimakatso Chunda, Security Supervisor at RustMo1. "I started as a junior security guard on the project, and now, with Grade A security clearance and pursuing a General Management qualification, I've built a family home. As a woman, RustMo changed my life and provided me with opportunities for professional development that I never had before." 
"Reatile Renewables is proud to contribute to RustMo1's legacy. This project and the team have set a high benchmark for other IPP projects in the REI4P," said Sunette Smith, Portfolio Executive at Reatile Group. 

JUWI has been operating the plant for the past ten years and the company just signed a new agreement to continue this work. The next decade will see the project generating a further 110 million kilo-watt hours of clean energy amidst the energy crisis, reducing carbon by around 66,000 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent emissions of around 24 million litres of diesel consumed. 

According to Doyle, “This project is one of deep foundational influence for both our team and South Africa, and the first of many we’ve developed, constructed or operated for the South African grid. We’re honoured to contribute to the next phase of RustMo’s journey, and to witness how this model will inspire the next iteration of the national renewables procurement programme.” 

About Momentous Energy 
Momentous Energy is a renewable energy company specialising in solar power generation and battery energy storage. It was established in 2011 in South Africa as part of the Vecteng Group. The company has marked significant milestones, including the development of South Africa’s 1st renewable energy independent power producer, RustMo1 Solar Farm, and South Africa’s 1st large-scale commercial and industrial renewable energy project. Momentous Energy offers development, engineering, construction, financing, and operating services for renewable energy plants. With its global network, the company strategically leverages finance and technology through offices in Johannesburg and Shanghai. For further details, please visit 

About the JUWI Group 

JUWI South Africa is part of the international JUWI Group, one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies. It develops solar, wind and hybrid renewable energy solutions and provides engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and operations and maintenance (O&M) services for solar PV and hybrid systems. The JUWI Group was established in 1996 in Germany, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Mannheim-based energy supplier, MVV Energie AG. JUWI has around 1200 employees worldwide, branches on all continents and is actively engaged in various renewable energy projects around the globe. The South African office opened in Cape Town in 2011. For more information, visit 

About Reatile Group 
Reatile Group is a 100% black owned and operated investment holding company formed in 2003 with its focus in diversified energy investments in Sub-Saharan Africa. Reatile Renewables is a wholly owned subsidiary of Reatile Group and was incorporated in 2016 to invest in growing opportunities within the Renewable Energy sector in South Africa and beyond, as part of a broader strategy by Reatile Group to diversify its investment portfolio. Since its incorporation, Reatile Renewables has developed a reputation as a recognised and established B-BBEE investor in the South African Renewable Energy sector with strategic interests across the Renewables value chain that includes the government and private sector procurement rounds. For more information, visit