Scatec Solar connects South Africa's first renewable independent power project to the grid

10. September 2013 | Financial & Legal Affairs, Markets & Trends, Research & Development | By:  Ian Clover

European PV specialists Scatec Solar connect their 75 MW solar plant to South Africa's grid three months ahead of schedule, making it the first renewable energy independent power producer procurement program (REIPPPP) in the country.

Scatec Solar's new 75 MW solar plant in Kalkbut, South Africa, has been connected to the grid three months ahead of schedule.

Three months ahead of schedule, Scatec Solar has connected its 75 MW solar PV plant to South Africa’s grid. The plant – located in Kalkbut in South Africa’s Northern Cape region – becomes the first REIPPPP project to be operational in the country, and will provide jobs for more than 600 local employees.

Due to its location in the sun-drenched Northern Cape region, the solar plant is predicted to produce in excess of 135 kWh per year, enough to cater for the power demands of 33,000 households, and saving South Africa 115,000 tons in carbon emissions per year. The plant has in excess of 312,000 solar panels mounted on 156 km of substructure, inverters, transformers and a HV sub-station.

Capital for the project was financed through Standard Bank, South Africa’s largest commercial bank, with Scatec Solar the largest financer in a consortium that consists of Norfund, Simacel, Stanlib/Standard Bank, and Old Mutual Life Assurance Company. Power produced by the grid will be sold through a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with Eskom, South Africa’s national utility company.

''I am very proud of our staff and contractors who have been able to complete this substantial project three months ahead of schedule, demonstrating how swiftly utility-scale solar energy plants could be built and put into operation'' said Rayond Carlsen, Scatec Solar’s CEO.

The plant’s ahead-of-schedule construction created a significant boon for the local job market, and its scale and presence in the region will provide more than 500 permanent jobs for employees, the majority of whom have been trained and recruited from the local community, with 16% of all employees women.

''South African authorities are committed to implementing an ambitious renewable energy program, and we find great satisfaction in being able to contribute to its success through our own projects which we have actively been developing in South Africa over the last four years,'' added Carlsen. ''This country boasts some of the best conditions for solar power in the world and the annual output of 135 million kWh produced at the Kalkbult plant will benefit both the region and the local community in which we operate.''

An agreed level of revenue and dividends raised by the power plant has been earmarked to help fund socio-economic development initiatives in the surrounding area. Meanwhile, Scatec Solar has been awarded a further three REIPPP projects in South Africa, with a combined capacity of 190 MW. Construction of the first two – located near Hannover in the Northern Cape and Burgersdorp in the Eastern Cape – has commenced, with completion scheduled for the middle of 2014.

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