Construction on the largest solar field in S Africa to start in 2017

29th July 2016

Norwegian power producer Scatec Solar plans to start construction by mid-2017 on three new adjacent solar projects in Upington, in the Northern Cape, which will form the largest solar field in South Africa and one of the biggest in the world with a combined peak capacity of 258 MW.

Scatec Solar has based its international operation and maintenance (O&M) headquarters in South Africa, where it already runs three solar photovoltaic (PV) plants with a total capacity of 190 MW. The company is currently in the final stages of the financial close process of another three under the fourth round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

In line with the requirements of the REIPPPP, Scatec Solar has included a local community trust as a shareholder in each of its South African plants and is investing a portion of revenue from each plant in social and economic development projects benefiting local communities. The company estimated in its 2015 Sustainability Report that total contributions from dividends and revenues will amount to 1.2-billion Norwegian Krone (about R2-billion) over the planned 20-year lifetime of the plants.

Scatec Solar’s 75 MW Kalkbult plant, in the Northern Cape, was the first project to deliver electricity to the national grid under the REIPPPP. The plant, which includes 312 000 solar panels, took 10 months to construct and fully commission, earning the company a strong reputation for efficiency.

Expertise sourced from South African companies is further underpinning Scatec Solar’s global expansion, with local engineers and O&M specialists providing services for Scatec Solar’s projects both locally and abroad.

“Scatec Solar has placed great trust and confidence in South Africa. “Their reliance on South African partners is an acknowledgment of South African expertise in infrastructure development and the exportability of South African skills,” says Scatec Solar South Africa GM Jan Fourie.

Scatec Solar now has operational plants and projects under development in eight countries, including the US, Honduras, Brazil, Czech Republic, Jordan, Rwanda and Mali. Procurement and supply chain specialists in South Africa also take care of Scatec Solar requirements in Africa and the Middle East.

Scatec Solar aims to have PV capacity of between 1 400 MW and 1 600 MW in operation and under construction by 2018, CEO Raymond Carlsen told a recent Nordic Energy Summit in Oslo, Norway. Its current pipeline of projects, with combined capacity of 1 096 MW, include ventures in South Africa, East and West Africa, Egypt, Pakistan and the Americas.
Scatec Solar employs 65 people at its South African hub, which is split between Cape Town and Johannesburg, and on site at its three operational plants, which are situated in the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape. The number of staff will be increased to support the implementation of the REIPPPP Round 4 projects as well as any further global expansion.
Scatec Solar’s operating plants globally avoided 426 000 t of carbon emissions in 2015, according to the report. The company predicts that yearly emissions reductions resulting from its plants will reach 2.2-million tons by 2018, equivalent to 4% of Norway’s 2015 total emissions.