Juwi Renewable Energies has announced that the Droogfontein 2 Solar Park, near Kimberley, has reached full grid code compliance and started commercial operations.
The 179 ha area, which comprises 260 000 solar panels on a single-axis tracker system, is supplying 75 MW to the national grid.
Juwi was appointed the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor on the project.
Droogfontein 2 is the first of three projects, totalling 250 MW and awarded to Juwi in 2018, to reach completion.
Senior construction and site manager Nkosikhona Yeko attributes the project’s smooth progression to detailed planning and scheduling of the project prior to its commissioning.
“Our planning has ensured that we manage the challenges of coordinating several contractors, with a combined workforce of hundreds of people, on site at the same time. We have succeeded in getting all the different subcontractors to work together as one team, with shared objectives,” adds Yeko.
Meanwhile, Juwi says local community involvement was key to the success of the project.
MD Greg Austin says the company worked closely with all stakeholders including the sponsor’s Community Operations team and the Droogfontein Communal Property Association (CPA), who are the land owners and represent the local community interests.
About 530 local community members were directly employed on the project, out of a total of 738 people employed, and additional employment was created through the contracting out of various services.
“In effect, 2 000 individuals have been directly and positively impacted by the project, and of course there are economic multiplier effects throughout the community,” says Austin.
He adds that the Droogfontein CPA community includes about 104 families. Many of the beneficiaries of the CPA have been employed on the project, as have other people from the greater Kimberley area.
“The project is leasing 200 ha of land from the CPA, on which Droogfontein 2 Solar Park has been constructed; the revenue from the lease for that portion of land forms part of the CPA business plan.”
COO Stephan Hansen says the completion of the project is an important milestone in Juwi’s strategy of implementing projects in South Africa.
“This is one of our core markets in our global strategy where we want to do project development and also build projects for third parties.
“This portfolio is a very important bridge. We have been very successful early on in the South African market, and we’ve been awarded projects in nearly every round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP),” Hansen states.
"Juwi is one of the largest players in the South African market doing EPC and very importantly, we are now offering our own developed PV projects into future bid rounds," says the company.
Once all three projects are concluded in the coming six months, Juwi will have a 20% South African market share in both the EPC and operations and management business areas.
Hansen says Juwi is eagerly looking forward to Round 5 of the REIPPPP, believing that the political environment is good and creating a sustainable environment for Juwi to be successful in the market.
“Solar is one big pillar, we are also active in wind – which is also equally important to us. This makes South Africa a unique market for us because it is the only international market where we do solar and wind development.
“We hope that there’s going to be continued success and that we can provide a valuable contribution to the future energy mix of South Africa and to the local communities that we are serving with our projects.”