The energy department on Thursday announced it had signed off on a power purchasing agreement (PPA) with Norwegian company Scatec to provide 150MW of dispatchable renewable generating capacity.
This was part of the Risk Mitigation Programme Independent Power Producers Programme (RMIPPP).
The hybrid installation in the Northern Cape will consist of 540MW of solar PV capacity and 1.1GWh of battery storage, providing the ability to dispatch 150MW to Eskom’s grid at any given time.
The project must now reach financial close within 60 days from the signoff, after which construction will begin. It is expected to start providing power to the national grid by the end of 2023.
These are the first of 11 planned RMIPPP projects progressing to this stage.
Government first announced its plan to procure emergency power in December 2019.
The department officially gazetted the programme on 7 July 2020.
One of its main goals was to address the electricity supply gap that prevented Eskom from performing necessary maintenance on its coal power fleet, forcing it to implement severe load-shedding.
The programme also intended to reduce the power utility’s reliance on expensive diesel-based peaking open cycle gas turbines (OCGTs).
Eskom’s OCGTSs provide extra power during high demand periods when its typical generation is insufficient.
The three projects from Scatec were added to the list three months later, meaning the programme would provide 1,975MW capacity once all the projects were built.
However, the approval of power purchasing agreements for the remaining eight projects dragged along at a snail’s pace.
The result is that none of the projects are expected to be completed by the end of the year — which was the deadline government initially set by which bidders had to supply electricity.
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