Consulting Engineers South Africa’s CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Awards celebrates and showcases annually the innovation, quality, outstanding workmanship, and professionalism in the industry.


CENEC and Mahlako a Phahla Investments joined forces in 2020 and have since been making waves in the South African energy market through the development of the Prieska Power Reserve (PPR) project in the Siyathemba Local Municipality of the Northern Cape, South Africa.

Showcased at the recent 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference of the Parties(COP26)and identified as a special infrastructure project by the South African national government, Prieska Power Reserve has the potential to rapidly decarbonise South Africa’s existing industries, but also attract industrial investment from across the globe seeking to meet new standards of green power in the production process.


The PPR project is a catalytic project that is planned to start producing green hydrogen and ammonia in 2025 through a combination of high-yielding renewable solar and wind energy resources, along with the other natural resources of water and air. Set to become one of the largest renewable energy hubs in South Africa, the PPR project will not only assist in reducing greenhouse emissions but will also increase South Africa’s green ammonia exports and contribute tremendously to South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product.


It is anticipated that PPR will create over 176 000 job years that will benefit local communities and develop skills for skilled and non-skilled labourers.  Within the consulting space, Prieska Power Reserve provides numerous opportunities for consulting engineers to grow their capabilities, present innovative design solutions, and develop their professionals. Prieska Power Reserve has engaged numerous top-empowered consulting engineering firms for project management services and technical reviews on the PPR project – these engagements have and will continue to provide these firms with invaluable experience in a renewable space that is a first for South Africa.


The first phase of the PPR project consists of the production of 80 000 tonnes/annum of green ammonia, with a green hydrogen content of approximately 14 300 tonnes/annum, from 2025 by means of 180MW solar and 130MW of onshore wind generation. Production of the ammonia will be increased to over 500 000 tonnes/annum by 2030. The latter phases are planned to reach 3GW of renewable generation capacity through wind and solar. To export the energy, the unstable hydrogen must be converted to ammonia by extracting nitrogen from the atmosphere. The construction of the chemical plant is planned to commence in 2023 and will be consisting of a 120MW electrolyser (H2) and 52MW ammonia synthesizer (NH3), which will be operational in 2025. These skills will be transferred to local skilled workers during the construction and operation of this project.


In their respective capacities as CENEC and Mahlako, each organisation has through the years steadily developed a reputation of strong entrepreneurial values with a determination to deliver value through innovative, sustainable solutions tailored for the African market. Despite being a new entity, Prieska Power Reserve, which is made up of the leadership teams from CENEC and Mahlako, demonstrates these same values with a strong focus on socio-economic development and sustainability. The PPR project addresses 8 out of the 17 United Nations Sustainability Goals through strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities while tackling climate change and environmental protection. Prieska Power Reserve is regarded by many as a benchmark when it comes to standards of ethics and professionalism and is a gold standard client in the engineering industry.