JinkoSolar to supply off-grid utility scale project

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Diesel or oil-replacement photovoltaic solutions are continuing to emerge as a future growth market for the photovoltaic industry, with a 1 MW off grid installation in South Africa the latest application. The installation will help reduce the daytime diesel usage at a mine, which is located in the northernmost South African province, an area in which the utility Eksom is active.

The installation will be designed and constructed by Solea Renewables and will employ 4,170 JinkoSolar modules. The plant is expected to be completed in October of this year.

"While the global demand for South African coal, platinum, palladium and chromium increases, mines and other industrial consumers face power supply constraints due to capacity challenges at Eskom," said Vusi Mhlanzi, the Director of Solea Renewables. "The turnkey delivery of our PV plants will not only benefit end-users, but it will in turn help reduce the ever present and increasing energy demand Eskom faces," said Mhlanzi.

In announcing the supply deal, JinkoSolar indicated that it has "great expectations" for the country. "The region’s booming population, strong economic growth and abundant sunlight represent an exciting opportunity for solar and for JinkoSolar." said Kangping Chen, CEO of JinkoSolar.

Prospects for fuel replacement

In a recent interview with pv magazine, the president of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) Winfried Hoffmann said that photovoltaics will be increasingly used to replace some diesel used for electricity development in key growth markets. He added that such fuel replacement markets would contribute significantly to annual growth in the coming years.

"Taking today’s LCOE for photovoltaics, if you add a photovoltaic system to an existing diesel generation system, you can use the photovoltaics as a fuel saver," explained Hoffmann, adding, "you can still use the diesel for times when there is no sun available." Hoffmann concluded that the outlook for this market segment is bright: “For sure that will be the next wave of non-subsidized markets."

The Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems Eicke Weber concurs with Hoffmann on the emergence of this opportunity for photovoltaics, adding that the same applies to markets where oil is burnt for electricity generation – such as the MENA region. "The same holds for remote villages and for islands, where oil is transported over long distances in order for diesel generation," Weber told pv magazine. "With today’s photovoltaic technology, with today’s prices, it is very profitable to replace diesel generators with photovoltaics."