Jan Oberholzer’s new job bringing 5,000 MW of power to South Africa

Jan Oberholzer

Former Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said he is enthusiastic about helping his new company, Mulilo Energy, to expand its renewable energy operations and add 5,000 MW to the South African grid.

Mulilo is a renewable energy developer and strategic equity investor focusing on wind and solar photovoltaic technologies.

This week, Mulilo announced that it had appointed Oberholzer as its board’s non-executive director and chairman.

Oberholzer said Mulilo is well-positioned to serve South Africa’s energy needs by investing in long-term diverse and sustainable energy solutions.

Speaking to Biznews, he explained that he had a few offers after leaving Eskom but selected Mulilo because of the company’s vision and operations.

He explained that Mulilo’s largest shareholder, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), is the largest global investor in renewable energy.

CIP manages 11 funds and has around €25 billion (R512 billion) in assets under management in renewable energy and associated infrastructure.

Oberholzer added that the executives at CIP are true professionals with extensive experience in the energy sector.

Another attractive aspect of the company is that Mulilo is a successful South African independent power producer (IPP).

He said partnering with Mulilo is a good match for his skill set and their operations, and he looks forward to adding value to the company.

As non-executive chairman of the Mulilo board, Oberholzer is required to provide leadership to achieve their goal of adding 5,000 MW to 6,000 MW to the South African grid.

To put this into perspective, it is more power than the newly built Kusile Power Station produces when fully operational.

In addition to his chairman responsibilities, he will provide consulting services to Mulilo to share his experience and assist with their energy projects.

The company currently has six operational projects – four wind projects and two solar projects – which produce 440 MW.

It has been awarded an additional four power purchase contracts for 432 MW, complementing its six existing operations.

What excites Oberholzer is that Mulilo has another 130 to 150 projects in the pipeline. “There is a project funnel that receives attention, which adds up to 30,000 MW,” he said.

“I believe that Mulilo is very well-positioned to play a significant role in energy generation moving forward.”

He added that the reality in South Africa is that electricity demand far exceeds supply, which causes load-shedding.

The high demand means Eskom cannot take generation units offline to do the necessary maintenance, which causes unplanned breakdowns.

That means additional generation capacity is urgently required to give Eskom breathing room and perform proper maintenance on its coal fleet.

“It is critical that we have other players entering the market to ensure that the necessary generation capacity is available to deal with the current unsustainable situation,” he said.


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