International Women’s Day Q&A: Cheryl Persensie, Economic Development Manager and Miliswa Mlokoti, Plant Manager at Kangnas Wind Farm

This International Women’s Day, to celebrate women in energy we’ve been speaking to some of the fantastic and talented women who work across our portfolio of wind farms to understand more about their roles and the wind projects they manage.

At our Kangnas wind project in South Africa, we asked our Economic Development Manager, Cheryl Persensie and Plant Manager, Miliswa Mlokoti, to share a little more detail about their roles, the renewables programme in South Africa, the benefits of renewable energy and their future plans for the Kangnas operations team.

                 Cheryl Persensie                                                   Miliswa Mlokoti

Tell us more about the Kangnas Wind Farm, and your roles?

Miliswa Mlokoti, Plant Manager: Kangnas is 50km east of Springbok, in the Northern Cape. Construction started in 2018 and operations in late 2020. It has an installed capacity of 140 MW from 61x 2.3 MW/108m hub height turbines that can power 150,000 homes. Generating more than 500 GWh of clean energy also saves significant carbon emissions previously produced by coal power stations. As Plant Manager, I look after Kangnas’ daily operations, ensuring we deliver reliable energy to the grid and adhere to the Grid Code Compliance requirements.

Cheryl Persensie, Economic Development Manager: It was a great achievement commissioning Kangnas in November, despite the challenges with COVID-19. As Economic Development Manager I’ve helped deliver on commitments to employ and procure content locally. We supported over 550 jobs during construction, directly benefitting the local community. I also deliver the project’s community investment programmes, which target education and skills, enterprise development, sports, arts and culture, and social welfare. Kangnas also provides COVID-19 support to the Department of Health.

How has your experience with Kangnas made you see South Africa’s broader renewables programme?

Miliswa Mlokoti, Plant Manager: Connecting Kangnas into the grid demonstrated positive progress in our country’s renewables programme, and also a meaningful contribution to the national grid that helps to relieve the high electricity demand. Fortunately, we have abundant wind and solar resources and harnessing them improves our energy security, lowers costs to consumers and reduces carbon emissions. This allows us to create a truly sustainable energy system fit for the future.

Cheryl Persensie, Economic Development Manager: Not only are we in need of clean energy, but also of new jobs and development opportunities. Renewables give South Africa the opportunity to deliver on both. Though construction jobs are short term, operations jobs are long term. There are also supply chain benefits: 50% of Kangnas’ construction costs went on local services and materials, and this should increase as the industry reaches scale.

What is the near-term focus for the Kangnas operations team?

Cheryl Persensie, Economic Development Manager: As Economic Development Manager, my priority is to make sure we support the community and that impacts last long after the wind farm’s lifespan. These will primarily come through our investment programmes, which aim to deliver long-term transformation. Over Kangnas’ lifetime, we’ll allocate just under 1 million USD a year on average to community projects.

Miliswa Mlokoti, Plant Manager: As Operations & Maintenance, our focus is to safely operate and maintain the facility, deliver reliable power and adhere to statutory requirements. The first months of operations are critical as we focus on health, safety and biodiversity management while setting up systems for effective and efficient operations. At team Kangnas, we pride ourselves on our strong values and aim for industry-leading performance.