South African coal miner Seriti Resources has entered into an agreement to acquire a majority stake in Windlab, an African wind and solar power company. The 892 million rand acquisition is part of the miner’s strategic effort to expand beyond its portfolio of coal assets and into the renewable energy space.

Seriti will have a controlling stake of 51% and the remaining 49% will be split between the partners namely Standard Bank, Rand Merchant Bank, Ntiso Investment Holdings and Windlab CEO Peter Wen.

Seriti Green, a subsidiary of Seriti Resources, is expected to start building wind farms in Mpumalanga that will generate three gigawatts of wind and solar power by 2030.

Seriti CEO Mike Tete says the acquisition supports the company’s strategy to diversify its energy business.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to being a coal miner, but what has happened over the years is that the key questions that are being asked are: are you going to be a coal miner for the duration? And we’re saying we’re transitioning into an energy company. A company that recognizes that even though we are in the coal mining business, there are opportunities in the energy space. And the opportunities include investing in solar, investing in wind, investing in other types of renewable energy.”

Venn says they plan to produce one gigawatt of energy within the next 12 months.

“Windlab has secured a significant portion of land in Mpumalanga for the construction of the current pipeline without access to Seriti Resources land. But secondly, there is a plan to look at all of that, particularly the mines that may start at the decommissioning stage, re-permit them, specifically looking at solar PV and battery storage on Seriti land is part of the pipeline as we move forward. We have to understand that there are six gigawatts of current grid access.”

Merchant bank Rand says the deal is a necessary endorsement for black ownership in the renewable energy space.

“According to many conversations with the government, one of the biggest hurdles they have faced is creating a truly South African, black-owned IPP. In the last 12 years, as you know, the space has been dominated by European players, and for us to have Seriti’s support to close that whole thing is a massive thing for RMB,” says the bank’s Kwabena Malgas.

Windlab currently oversees 3.5 GW of renewable energy projects at various stages of development in South Africa and East Africa.

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