Largest African PV plant begins operation


Africa's largest PV plant has gone online in South Africa's Northern Cape.

Developed by California-based SolarReserve, the 96 MW Jasper solar project has completed construction and is fully operational, almost two months ahead of schedule.

Jasper is located in a solar park that also includes the 75 MW Lesedi solar power project, which came online in May, and the proposed 100 MW Redstone concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) plant featuring SolarReserve's CSP technology with integrated energy storage.

As part of the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP), Jasper will set aside a percentage of total project revenues for Enterprise Development and Socio-Economic Development for the benefit of the local communities.

"In addition to helping South Africa meet its critical electricity needs, the Jasper Project will bring long lasting economic benefits to the region," said SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith, adding that the company would continuing its positive momentum in the country through collaboration on further endeavors, including upcoming CSP projects.

With more than 325,000 PV modules, the Jasper project will deliver 180,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually for South Africa residents – enough to supply some 80,000 households through a 20-year power purchase agreement with Eskom, the South African power utility company.

Selected by the South Africa Department of Energy (DOE) in the second round of bids under the REIPPPP, the project also marked Google's first renewable energy investment in Africa.

SolarReserve developed the project as part of a consortium that also included South African empowerment investment player Kensani Group and South African renewable energy project developer Intikon Energy. Investors inlcuded South Africa's Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Intikon, Kensani Capital Investments, Google, the PEACE Humansrus Community Trust and SolarReserve with Rand Merchant Bank providing preference share equity.

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