SOUTH AFRICA: Kenhardt solar farms come on stream in the Northern Cape

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AFRIQUE DU SUD : les parcs solaires Kenhardt entrent en service dans le Cap Nord © Scatec

Against a backdrop of power cuts in South Africa, the Norwegian independent power producer (IPP) Scatec and its partner H1 Holdings have begun operating the three Kenhardt solar photovoltaic power stations (540 MW) in the Northern Cape province.

The South African government wanted to rapidly alleviate the country’s electricity crisis by focusing on renewable energies. Just over a year after the start of construction of the Kenhardt solar power stations, Norwegian independent power producer (IPP) Scatec has announced the start of electricity production in the Northern Cape province.

“The progression from the development phase to construction, and now to commercial operation, has been a rewarding experience. We are ready to generate electricity and play a key role in the advancement of green energy generation in South Africa,” explains Jan Fourie, Scatec’s Executive Vice President for Sub-Saharan Africa. The Kenhardt project involved the construction of three solar photovoltaic power plants covering an area of 879 hectares.

Electricity storage

The plants are equipped with one million solar panels with a combined capacity of 540 MW, as well as a storage capacity of 225 MW/1,140 MWh thanks to 456 battery units. According to Scatec, the Kenhardt plants will be able to supply “150 MW of dispatchable energy from 5 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. all year round to the national grid”.

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 “A hybrid solar and battery storage plant integrates solar and battery technologies, overcoming intermittency and enhancing grid stability. Able to provide reliable energy when there is little or no sunshine, integrated storage improves overall reliability,” says the company headed by Terje Pilskog.

An investment of 1 billion dollars

Scatec injects the electricity it produces into the grid of South African state-owned utility Eskom, under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). The Norwegian IPP holds a 51% stake in the three solar power plants developed through the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP). The remaining 49% is held by South Africa’s H1 Holdings, which is stepping up investment in renewable energy in the rainbow nation.

The two partners used loans to build the three solar power plants. The Kenhardt project was financed by the Johannesburg-based Standard Bank Group and British International Investment (BII), the financial arm of British diplomacy.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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