May 8, 2024

Sappi Installs Solar Panels For its South African Operations

Sappi, a paper and packaging company, has entered a notable solar energy power purchase agreement (PPA) with Enpower Trading, a private electricity trading company licensed by NERSA. This agreement, totalling 175 GWh per year, underscores Sappi Southern Africa's dedication to reducing its carbon footprint and represents a significant milestone in South Africa's renewable energy landscape.

PPA to Last For Over Five Years

Sappi's collaboration with Enpower Trading perfectly fits its sustainability objectives, advancing its Science Based Target goals. This partnership will decrease Sappi SA and Sappi Limited's Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 6% and 4% respectively, through renewable energy solutions across multiple South African operations.

According to Engineering News, Sappi will receive power from SolarAfrica Energy's Sun Central PV project, one of South Africa's largest solar farms. This project, located southeast of De Aar in the Northern Cape, is being executed by SolarAfrica Energy, an integrated energy solutions provider.

The recently signed agreement, effective from the end of December 2025, marks a pioneering Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between Sappi and Enpower Trading. Over five years, Enpower Trading will provide Sappi with a utility-scale solar power solution, fostering an emerging strategic alliance. Both companies anticipate that this groundbreaking agreement will serve as a model for future agreements in South Africa, potentially addressing the electricity supply challenges encountered by large corporations in the region.

Reducing Dependency on Fossil Fuels

Sappi, renowned for its wood fibre-based renewable resources, is committed to advancing a circular economy by offering superior alternatives to fossil-based products. This agreement underscores Sappi's dedication to sustainable practices, showcasing leadership in renewable energy trading while reducing dependency on fossil fuels and maintaining cost efficiency.

Alex Thiel, CEO of Sappi Southern Africa, highlights that this agreement emphasizes their dedication to expanding their utilization of renewable and clean energy options, bringing them nearer to achieving regional and global objectives. This step significantly contributes to lowering their carbon footprint and demonstrates their commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 7: Clean Energy. Thiel expresses satisfaction in collaborating with sustainable partners who share similar goals in pursuing these endeavours.

“We are happy to be pursuing these objectives alongside sustainable, like-minded partners,” Thiel said.

Contributing to South Africa's Electricity Supply Industry

Likewise, this marks a significant step towards Enpower Trading's objective of contributing to transforming South Africa's electricity supply industry by offering cleaner and more affordable power to the local market.

James Beatty, CEO of Enpower Trading, remarks, "Enpower is excited to achieve this crucial milestone with Sappi and eagerly anticipates deepening our partnership. Our goal is to assist Sappi in achieving its decarbonisation goals. Furthermore, Enpower sees the implementation of this innovative PPA as a blueprint solution that, when deployed at scale, can serve as a key to addressing South Africa's load shedding crisis.”

The initiative will strengthen grid capacity, fostering increased energy source variety as South Africa progresses towards a more competitive energy landscape.

Enpower Trading and Sappi have worked closely to mitigate potential risks associated with this groundbreaking partnership. While incorporating renewable energy into Sappi's manufacturing processes and operations will necessitate adjustments to production facilities, metering, and billing systems, both companies are dedicated to surmounting these expected obstacles through meticulous planning and cooperation, utilizing innovative solutions to ensure a seamless transition.

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