Enel breaks ground on 230 MW of South African projects

Italian developer Enel Green Power has broken ground on three of the four PV power plants awarded it under the renewable energy tender held in 2013 by the South African government.

Work has started on the Aurora and Paleisheuwel projects – in the Northern Cape and Free State provinces, respectively, and each 82.5 MW in size – as well as the 66 MW Tom Burke plant, in Western Cape.

The news comes despite the fact South African utility Eskom announced last year that, because of grid constraints, the deadline for reaching financial close on the Tom Burke and Pulida schemes, among others, would be extended.

The three Enel PV plants, together with the 82.5 MW Pulida scheme, in the Limpopo region, were awarded to the Italian company in the third round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) tender, the results of which were announced in November 2013.

A year later, Eskom revealed it was unable to connect any more independent power producer projects because of grid constraints and the results of last year’s fourth round of the REIPPP, expected in November, have still not been announced.

Projects running on schedule

Work is yet to start on Enel’s Pulida project, or either of the two wind projects awarded to the company at the same time but in a press release issued by the Rome-based developer earlier this month, Enel said all the projects were running to timetable.

Announcing the tender wins 16 months ago, Enel, which has a 10 MW solar portfolio in South Africa, thanks to its Upington solar farm, said the plants would be operational by next year.

The projects which, including the two wind farms, would cost a total €630 million to develop according to Enel’s 2013 estimate, will use panels produced by Enel’s factory in Catania, Sicily.

The Sicilian fab was developed as part of a joint venture between Enel, Sharp and French-Italian manufacturer STMicroelectronics but Sharp paid Enel €95 million to relinquish its share of the JV and dissolve its module purchase obligations in July and STM followed suit, paying Enel €15 million days later.