Africa

TECH IMPACT: SA to get one of the world’s biggest solar and battery power plants

SABC News’ Tshepiso Moche reports on related tech developments in South Africa and globally. In this edition, he looks at the announcement that one of the world’s biggest solar and battery power plants will be constructed in the Northern Cape.

A Norwegian renewable energy company Scatec, has announced the commencing of construction at its three Kenhardt projects in the Northern Cape.

Scatec, a renewable energy developer, is constructing the 540-megawatt plant.

The energy plant, which is expected to be build in Kenhardt, will be one of the largest of its kind to be constructed in the world.

Among the many benefits from this project, is the creation of more than 3 000 jobs during the construction phase of the project.

The construction is expected to take over a year to complete and for electricity to be connected into the grid.

Currently, the country continues to battle with endless rolling blackouts, as Eskom struggles to keep up with the electricity demand.

Just this month alone, the power utility implemented stage six rolling blackouts which lasted over a week, before reducing it to stage four.

Once operational, the project will have a total solar capacity of 540 MW and battery storage capacity of 225 MW/1140 MWh.

“This project is a first of its kind and will be one of the world’s largest solar and battery facilities. We are now looking forward to starting construction of this unique and exciting project, which will be a major contribution to South Africa’s economy and green energy sector,” says Scatec CEO Terje Pilskog.

In August 2020, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy launched a Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP). This was in response to the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) which stated that South Africa had an energy supply gap of about 2000 megawatts (MW).

More than 1 million solar panels will be used to construct this plant.

In June, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe officiated the signing of power purchase agreements involving three power supply projects awarded to Scatec.

The projects are part of the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, aimed at addressing Eskom’s electricity crisis.

South Africa and many other countries are seeking to move away from coal and gas to cleaner energy sources like wind and solar.

“This is an important milestone in the procurement of renewable energy and proves that the sector can be relied upon to deliver much-needed electricity capacity to the grid,” adds Jan Fourie, General Manager of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The value of Scatec’s Development and EPC contract for the project is approximately R13.7 billion.

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