The 75 megawatt Kalkbult solar farm in South Africa’s Northern Cape region was connected to the regional grid last Friday (Sept. 9). The project, led by Norway’s Scatec Solar, is the first project under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP), which will install 4 gigawatts of renewable energy under its initial round of contracts.
"I am very proud of our staff and contractors who have been able to complete this substantial project three months ahead of schedule, demonstrating how swiftly utility-scale solar energy plants could be built and put in operation," said Raymond Carlsen, CEO of Scatec Solar. "South African authorities are committed to implementing an ambitious renewable energy program."
By 2030, South Africa plans to install roughly 17.8 gigawatts of renewable energy online. Currently the country largely relies on coal-fired generation but it wants to move to more clean energy. In announcing South Africa’s plans for renewable energy, Minister of Energy, Hon. Dipuo Peters stated, “This represents a historic milestone in our country, and it is a demonstration of our departure from being associated with high greenhouse gas emissions, high water usage, health externalities and other environmental degradation. As you can appreciate, a lot more still needs to be done to put our country on a low carbon trajectory in a way that balances our country’s own imperatives against our responsibilities as world governments.”
“We find great satisfaction in being able to contribute to its success through our own projects which we have actively been developing in South Africa over the last four years,” Carlsen added. “This country boasts some of the best conditions for solar power in the world and the annual output of 135 million kWh produced at the Kalkbult plant will benefit both the region and the local community in which we operate," he added.
The Scatec project was the first to reach completion, a spokesperson from Scatec Solar said. The project was so successful partly beause construction started immediately after the financial close in November. But it’s far from the last solar project that’s currently underway in the country. Earlier this year, for instance, Abengoa completed the tower for Khi Solar One, its first solar tower in South Africa, which will provide 50 megawatts of concentrated solar power when completed. SolarReserve is anticipated to break ground on two CSP projects. SunEdison has projects its working on in South Africa as well: the 30 megawatt AC Witkop Solar Park and 28 megawatt AC Soutpan Solar Park, both in Limpopo Province.