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South African solar gets Swiss technology boost

Swiss firm ABB wins solar power orders worth USD 225 million to boost South Africa’s renewable program

The South African government is encouraging independent power producers to develop the country’s abundant renewable energy resources including solar

South Africa has purchased two large-scale photovoltaic plants worth USD 225 million from Swiss power, ABB, which could generate enough clean energy to displace around 130,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

ABB will supply two turnkey PV power plants that will be built in the northern province of Limpopo in South Africa and could power around 36,000 homes.

The two plants located at the Witkop and Soutpan Solar Parks, will be located close to the city of Polokwane, the capital of Limpopo province and will have a generating capacity of 33 megawatts (MW) and 31 MW respectively.

The installations will be among the first utility-scale PV power plants to be built in phase 1 of the South African government’s long-term renewable energy program. The objective is to reduce the impact of electricity generation on the environment and diversify the country’s energy mix by encouraging independent power producers to develop the country’s abundant renewable energy resources.

The power generated from these plants will be fed into the high-voltage transmission grid via a new high-voltage substation and will generate 130 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, according to ABB. The projects are scheduled to be completed in 2013.

“Our vast experience in supplying high-efficiency PV power plants, combined with our local capabilities and presence will enable us to deliver best-in-class solutions and support the country’s vision to integrate renewable energies,” said Brice Koch, head of ABB’s Power Systems division.

Each turnkey solution will include design, engineering, installation and commissioning. ABB will also supply a range of products and technologies, including inverters, protection equipment, switchgear, dry-type transformers, controllers and the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, ABB will also construct a substation and provide the connection to the high-voltage power grid.

The orders were awarded by two special purpose entities, Core Energy and Erika Energy, whose primary stakeholders include Sun Edison, a leading global solar energy services provider.