Scatec inaugurates 540 MW Kenhardt solar farm

18th April 2024 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Deputy Editor Online

Scatec inaugurates 540 MW Kenhardt solar farm

Kenhardt solar farm, in Northern Cape

Norwegian renewable energy company Scatec has inaugurated the 540 MW Kenhardt solar farm in the Northern Cape.

In his keynote address at the event, on April 18, CEO Terje Pilskog commended how far the site had come to be producing electricity for South Africa’s grid and reiterated the company’s commitment to the local market.

The project, with its 540 MW of solar capacity, 225 MW of batteries and 1.1 GWh of storage capacity, is one of the largest hybrid power projects globally.

The site spans 879 ha, or 10 km from north to south, comprising one-million solar panels and a battery facility of 456 units, each matching the size of a shipping container and weighing 30 t.

During construction, the project employed 2 600 workers, most of whom were South African nationals and many of them women.

Pilskog commended all employees involved for having built the infrastructure within an 18-month schedule and for maintaining a safety record throughout construction.

He added that South Africa was a “changemaker” in the renewable energy sector, particularly owing to the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme that was launched in 2010.

Scatec was announced as a preferred bidder in the first bid window of the programme, and was the first company to bring a utility-scale project into operation, with a 75 MW solar project called Kalkbult in 2013, which is also based in the Northern Cape.

The Kenhardt project development started subsequently in 2014, which led to Scatec establishing technical and operating competency centres in South Africa.

The site delivers 150 MW of dispatchable power to the grid from early in the morning to mid-evening year-round, under a 20-year power purchase agreement with State-owned power utility Eskom.

Pilskog stated that the project would not have been realised without Scatec’s funding partners, which include H1 Holdings, Standard Bank, Old Mutual, Norfund, EsksFin and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa.

“Plants like Kenhardt significantly alleviate the power shortages currently experienced, highlighting the critical role of energy storage in the country’s road towards energy security, and the battle against the ongoing loadshedding crisis.”

He added that renewable energy was a strong driver for development at national level and that access to stable electricity enabled society to grow and thrive. Competitive renewable energy was also a requirement for decarbonisation and the future viability of many industries.

Scatec looks forward to growing its presence in South Africa further and is confident the country will become a regional leader of renewable energy development in Africa.