South Africa’s largest thin-film PV power plant complete


De Aar 3, an 85MW solar project said to be the largest solar farm in South Africa using thin-film modules, has been completed.

The project has been undertaken by Solar Capital De Aar, a joint venture between Italian renewable energy developer, Moncada Energy Group, and solar funder, Solar Capital Group.

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De Aar 3 uses over 200,000 amorphous silicon thin-film modules manufactured by a Moncada subsidiary in Italy.

The plant’s funding was administrated by Solar Capital’s South Africa subsidiary, Phelan Energy Group, and the project was built by Moncada subsidiary, Costruzioni Moncada South Africa .

Construction began on the project last January 2013, creating more than 3,000 local jobs; the project spans 270 hectares, located in De Aar, Northern Cape under a US$232 million EPC contract.

Now complete, the project will supply power to public utility, Eskom, under a 20-year power purchase agreement, awarded in the second round of South Africa’s renewable energy independent power producer procurement (REIPPP) programme. Estimated annual generation is 150,000MWh.

Moncada and Solar Capital provided 25% of the funding; the rest was funded by South Africa’s Standard Bank.

The joint venture between Moncada and Solar Capital began in October 2011 to realise seven PV projects, with a final pipeline of 520MW, between 2012 and 2016.

Moncada CEO, Salvatore Moncada, said the project was completed “despite the present situation of severe economic crisis and other challenges”, and that the project helps distribute Italian technology across the globe.

The project is the latest of the multi-megawatt utility-scale PV plants now starting to reach completion in South Africa under the REIPPP programme.

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