Commercial operations have started at Scatec Solar’s 40 MW Linde solar photovoltaic (PV) project, located near Hanover in South Africa’s Northern Cape and incorporating solar-tracking technology.
The R1.1-billion project is the Norwegian group’s second utility-scale solar PV plant completed under the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) and has increased Scatec’s national installed base to 115 MW.
The company’s first South African project was the 75 MW Kalkbult plant, which was the largest solar PV project awarded during the first bidding round. The R1.73-billion Kalkbult incorporates 312 504 PV panels and started operating in September last year, following a 188-day construction phase.
Linde, meanwhile, is the first of two projects awarded to the independent power producer during the second REIPPPP bid window, the other being the 75 MW, R1.79-billion Dreunberg project, in the Eastern Cape.
CEO Raymond Carlsen says the project was completed on time and budget and has built on the experience gained from the Kalkbult project. Scatec Solar South Africa is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for all the projects and will also be the operations and maintenance contractor.
Linde, which entered commercial operations on June 30, is the group’s first installation of a solar-tracker system, which should increase the plant’s output considerably. Solar trackers seek to collect solar energy for the longest period possible by aligning the panels to the shifting position of the sun.
The project incorporates zero-tilt single axis trackers and 138 000 polycrystalline panels supplied by Jinko Solar. It is expected to produce 94 000 MWh of electricity yearly, which will be purchased by Eskom in line with a 20-year power purchase agreement.
The project has been developed through a South African joint venture known as Scatec Solar SA and has been financed through a combination of debt from Standard Bank and equity from a consortium led by Scatec Solar, but also comprising Standard Bank, Old Mutual Life Assurance Company, Norfund and Simacel.
To date, around 3 900 MW has been allocated across 64 projects that have emerged following three REIPPPP bid windows.
A total of 47 projects have reached financial closed, with another 17 to close on a staggered basis from July 30. A fourth bid-submission date has been set for August 18.
The DoE has reported that a total of 14 renewable-energy plants have been connected to the grid, representing a combined nameplate capacity of 600 MW. This figure is expected to rise to over 1 000 MW by the end of the year.