Scatec Solar and its partners have both grid connected and reached commercial operation for the 86MW first phase of a 258MW PV installation in Upington, South Africa.
The first phase of the project, known as Sirius, is expected to generate 217 GWh of renewable energy and cut down on more than 180,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
Raymond Carlsen, CEO of Scatec Solar, said: “We are pleased to reach another milestone with the grid connection of our fourth solar power plant in South Africa, with a combined capacity of 276MW. South Africa continues to be a very important market for Scatec Solar, and we are developing several interesting project opportunities both within the utility scale segment as well as our container-based solar solution – Release.”
The solar facility in Upington, which will be comprised of three total phases, was awarded back in April 2015 through the fourth bidding round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPP) in South Africa.
Ownership of the plant is split between Scatec Solar (42%), Norfund (18%), South African investor H1 Holdings (35%) and the surrounding community of Upington (5%).
The remaining two phases of the installation, featuring a combined installed capacity of 172MW, are expected to reach commercial operation over the next couple of months.
South Africa has continued to allocate more and more resources toward expanding its renewable-energy sector, especially thanks to a number of measures taken over the last couple of months.
Back in October 2019, the country’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) signed off on a ruling to set aside 6GW of new large-scale solar over the next decade, with this new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) allocating the capacity in 1GW instalments each year in 2022, 2023, 2025 and from 2028-30. South Africa had already committed solar allocations of 114MW in 2020, 300MW in 2021, and 400MW in 2022.
Just a month later, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the national Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries announced a new scheme to add three Renewable Energy Development Zones (REDZs) to the initial eight areas identified in the country back in 2015.
Two new REDZs at Emalahleni and Klerksdorp will be used to fast-track PV resources, while a third zone mainly for wind was selected in Beaufort West. Projects located within these REDZs have to follow the more rapid Basic Assessment procedure instead of a full Scoping and Environmental Impact Assessment, while the timeframe for decision making by the environmental authorities is also reduced by 50 days.