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Chinese solar firm to power South Africa’s first off-grid utility scale PV system

JinkoSolar selected to power mine’s solar system to reduce diesel dependency for next 30 years

The off-grid utility scale PV project will be developed in South Africa

A Chinese solar manufacturer is to power the first off-grid utility scale PV system in South Africa. China’s JinkoSolar will work with South African firm EPC partner Solea Renewables to deliver the utility scale photovoltaic system for a mine in the country’s Limpopo province. 

The 1MW plant will produce approximately 1.8GWh of electricity per year and is expected to reduce the chrome mine’s daytime diesel dependency for the next 20 to 30 years.

The project is in line with South Africa’s national plans to increase power supplies from independent producers. It also dovetails with South Africa’s stated objective to increase the percentage of renewable energy among the country’s total power mix.

The fully integrated turnkey PV system designed, engineered and constructed by Solea Renewables will use 4,170 of JinkoSolar’s high efficiency polycrystalline PV panels.

VusiMhlanzi, director of Solea Renewables, said: “While the global demand for South African coal, platinum, palladium and chromium increases, mines and other industrial consumers face power supply constraints due to capacity challenges at Eskom. The turnkey delivery of our PV plants will not only benefit end-users, but it will in turn help reduce the ever present and increasing energy demand Eskom faces.

JinkoSolar said its solar panels have already been utilised in off-grid PV systems to offer mining and other industrial companies with a cost effective grid independent complement to traditional diesel generators.

“The electricity generated by JinkoSolar quality solar panels will definitely reduce the mine’s daytime diesel consumption while securing our client’s with a natural long-term hedge against all rising costs of power,” said Mhlanzi.

Kangping Chen, chief executive officer of JinkoSolar, added: "We have great expectations for South Africa. The region's booming population, strong economic growth and abundant sunlight represent an exciting opportunity for solar and for JinkoSolar. We look forward to working with Solea Renewables, an experienced EPC partner on this momentous project."

The plant is expected to be completed by late October, 2012.