South Africa is getting one of the world’s biggest solar and battery power plants

 ·20 Jul 2022

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

The projects, which form part of the government’s Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP), will have a total solar capacity of 540 MW and battery storage capacity of 225MW/1,140MWh.

This will provide 150 MW of dispatchable power under a 20-year power purchase agreement to the Kenhardt region, Scatec said.

“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 chief executive Terje Pilskog.

“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,” added Jan Fourie, Scatec’s general manager for Sub-Saharan Africa.

The project will be the largest investment in Scatec’s history with a total capex of approximately R16.4 billion to be financed by equity from the owners and R12.4 billion in non-recourse project debt. The debt will be provided by a group of lenders, including the Standard Bank Group as arranger and British International Investments.

Scatec will own 51% of the equity in the project, with H1 Holdings, its local Black Economic Empowerment partner owning 49%.

It is hoped that the additional capacity can ease some of strain on power utility Eskom and the country’s buckling power system

Eskom poses a significant risk to South Africa’s economy and public finances, with the government guaranteeing as much as R350 billion of its debt.

The utility has been intermittently cutting 6,000 megawatts from the grid since last month, leaving the country in darkness for hours at a time and further constraining industrial output and growth.

Read: UK looking to build wind farms and other new energy projects in South Africa

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