China-based JinkoSolar Holding and its EPC partner Solea Renewables have revealed plans to construct a 1MW PV plant which, they claim, will be the first off-grid utility-scale photovoltaic system in South Africa.
The planned project will be located at a chrome mine in South Africa’s Limpopo province. As part of the partnership deal, Solea Renewables will design, engineer and construct the PV system while JinkoSolar will supply 4,170 polycrystalline PV modules.
The 1MW plant is expected to generate an output of 1.8GWh which will help to reduce the mine’s dependence on diesel during the daytime for the next 20 to 30 years. The project is scheduled to complete by the end of October 2012.
The project has been welcomed by South Africa’s government who are aiming to increase the percentage of renewable energy among the country’s total power mix. It is also in line with national plans to increase power supplies from independent producers.
“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,” said Vusi Mhlanzi, director of Solea Renewables. “We chose JinkoSolar panels for its superior performance and reliability, as seen in utility-scale installations across Asia, Europe, and Americas.”
South Africa has taken a number of steps in recent months to drive the growth of cleaner energy in the country. In August, the US Export-Import bank signed a declaration of intent (DOI) with the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa which will see the Ex-Im bank provide financing up to US$2 billion worth of US technologies, products and services to South Africa’s energy sector, with a focus on clean-energy development.
According to JinkoSolar’s chief executive officer Kangping Chen, South Africa’s “booming population, storng economic growth and abundant sunlight represent an exciting opportunity for solar”.