Interview with Yolanda Mabuto
“I worked in senior project roles at Eskom for over a decade and during this time, I was nominated to represent Eskom in the Association of Municipal Electricity Utility – Women in Electricity and joined the AMEU executive council. In a sector traditionally dominated by men, my aim was to try to integrate women into positions of leadership and create space to open their own entities within the sector.
Through this work, my eyes opened to the significant need to accelerate the support of women in the energy sector. I left Eskom in 2016 and, in 2017, I registered Divaine Growth Solutions, an organisation that promotes sustainability within the energy sector while, at the same time, looks to address the underlying economic challenges.
Divaine is now overseeing the construction of its first Independent Power Plant this year, using locally manufactured solar panels, and the deployment of electric buses powered by solar and battery packs.”
Vision at Divaine Growth Solutions
“Our vision is to participate fully in the Just Energy Transition and we are ambitious in our plans. We are working to overcome the challenges associated with energy poverty by priotising using local materials and local talent to create solutions. We want to bring the benefit back into our communities and make renewable energy accessible and affordable.
We have a lot of opportunity as a black woman-owned business. We are fortunate to have joined hands with the Department of Energy, Department of Women, Youth and Disabilities. These are the government entities that are supporting our vision and helping to create networking opportunities.”
Genesis Energy in South Africa
In 2022 I joined Genesis Energy, an investment and energy infrastructure development company that has been operating for almost two decades and is active across several African counties. We participate in the full project value chain. In South Africa we currently have an active pipeline of +-600MW projects that we are looking to execute in 2023/26 across different provinces. These projects consist of gas, solar and battery storage as well as solar hybrid systems solutions.
The future of power generation in South Africa
As we know, South Africa needs to transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon energy generation solution. South Africa has abundant renewable energy resources, including solar, wind, and biomass. As a country, we have significant progress in developing renewable energy projects through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP). The future is likely to see further expansion of renewable energy capacity, with increased investments in utility-scale solar and wind projects. Incorporating energy storage technologies is crucial for ensuring a stable and reliable power supply and providing power during times when renewable energy generation is low.
Natural gas is likely to play a transitional role in the country's power generation mix because it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to coal-fired plants, making it a cleaner alternative during the transition phase. Expanding natural gas infrastructure and utilising liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports could provide a more flexible and loweremission power generation option in the near term. Here companies like Genesis Energy, with experience in building gas-fired plants, can play a huge role. Investing in skills development and retraining programmes can help facilitate a smooth transition and support the creation of new employment opportunities. The transition to a more sustainable power generation sector will require careful planning.”
Yolanda believes in local, continental and international collaboration to transform global economies. She serves at the BRICS Energy and Green Economy Group, is the Judge for the 2023/24 Milken-Motsepe Green Tech Competition and Chairperson of South African Institute of Electrical Engineers Entrepreneurship & Innovation Chapter amongst other roles.