• Scatec Solar has commissioned 86 MW solar power capacity in South Africa’s Upington
  • This is part of the company’s 258 MW Upington Solar Power Complex that it won in REIPPP round 4
  • The 86 MW Sirius facility is expected to generate 217 GWh of clean solar power annually
  • Remaining 172 MW of the 258 MW complex is likely to come online over the next few months

Norwegian solar power company Scatec Solar has energized 86 MW of solar power capacity in South Africa’s Upington. The 86 MW Sirius facility is part of a 258 MW solar power complex that Scatec Solar is building in the African country.

Sirius facility is expected to generate 217 GWh of clean power annually.  Made up of three projects, the 258 MW complex will see the remaining two solar plants with a combined capacity of 172 MW coming online over the next few months, said Scatec Solar. The entire Upington complex has Scatec Solar as 42% shareholder while Norfund holds an 18% stake, H1 Holdings 35% and the Community of Upington 5%.

For Scatec Solar, this is its fourth finished solar project in South Africa and it pushes up the company’s cumulative grid connected capacity in the country to 276 MW.

“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,” said Scatec Solar CEO, Raymond Carlsen. 

The company won these three projects in Upington in April 2015 as part of the country’s 4th bidding round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPP). South Africa had been planning to offer 1.8 GW renewable energy capacity in REIPPP round 5, but it hasn’t been launched as of now. The country is aiming for 6 GW of solar power capacity by 2030 under its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019 (see South Africa Targets 6 GW Solar PV By 2030).

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address on February 13, 2020 announced that the government will open the bid window for REIPPP round 5 and work with independent power producers (IPP) to accelerate the completion of projects awarded in round 4. There was no timeline mentioned in his address. Simultaneously, it will negotiate supplementary PPAs to acquire additional capacity from existing wind and solar plants.

The President also added that policies will be introduced under IRP 2019 to enable development of grid capacity from renewable energy, natural gas, hydro power, battery storage and coal. Administration also promised to expedite commercial and industrial (C&I) segment’s applications to produce their own electricity for captive consumption from 1 MW and above, while allowing municipalities with good financial standing to procure their own power from IPPs.

Meanwhile, South Africa must brace itself for further inconvenience with its debt-ridden utility Eskom with its aging power infrastructure, warning of increased load-shedding over the next 18 months.