Swiss firm to build solar plants in SA

20 September 2011

Swiss power and automation technology group ABB is to build two solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants for South African state electricity company Eskom – the first of their kind to be built in the country – to be complete in time for the forthcoming UN climate summit in Durban.

Announcing the fast-track projects on Monday, ABB said the pilot plants, each of one hectare, would be located on greenfield sites adjacent to Eskom’s coal-fired power stations at Lethabo in the Free State province and Kendal in Mpumalanga province.

The plants, which will produce power for use by Eskom’s existing stations, will support the push for increased renewable sources in the country’s energy mix.

South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan for 2010 to 2030 envisages renewables contributing 42%, or 17 800 MW, of the country’s new generation capacity by 2030.

The Department of Energy has put out a tender for the procurement of the first 3 725 MW of renewables capacity by 2016, which is likely to attract local and international investment of between US$10-billion and $12-billion.

“ABB technologies are playing a key role in facilitating the generation and grid integration of renewable energies,” ABB’s Franz Mengede said in a statement on Monday. “Solar power has an important role to play in our future energy mix and we are pleased to support Eskom in this pioneering effort.”

At the Kendal power station, ABB will provide a fixed tilt solar PV power plant with a station capacity of 620 kilowatts (kW) and production potential of 11 445 398 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year.

At the Lethabo site, the installation will comprise a single-axis tracking solar PV power plant with a peaking capacity of 575 kW and a production potential of 12 491 479 kWh per year.

SAinfo reporter