The 50 MW De Aar solar power project, which is majority owned by power company Globeleq, on December 3 started supplying power into Eskom’s power grid in the De Aar municipality.
This meant that, in future, should the municipality supply be off owing to scheduled maintenance, or a fault on the line, the project would be able to supply the entire De Aar town and surrounding areas with electricity.
“Although our planned commercial operation date is set for April, the project will, in fact, be able to produce enough power within the next couple of weeks to power the entire local town and neighbouring areas,” said De Aar solar power project manager Savva Antoniadis.
During the project’s commissioning process, the inverters were switched on for a period of time to check their integrity and reliability, during which period power was exported to the Eskom grid and consumed by Eskom customers, the project developers stated.
“No problems were encountered during the process and reliability was in fact verified, meaning that the power from the inverter area has continued to flow to the Eskom grid,” the company said.
Each inverter area produced about 2.4 MW of peak power, and it was expected that six of the 19 inverter areas would be commissioned by December 31, resulting in about 14.4 MW of peak power being supplied to Eskom.
Further, the project also offered the opportunity for training and skills transfer.
“This [project] provides employees further opportunity to gain knowledge and skills related to a renewable-energy power plant, from general workers up to the project management team,” Antoniadis said.
The R1.5 billion De Aar solar power project was among the first 18 solar photovoltaic projects, collectively representing 632 MW of capacity, awarded during the first window of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.