Local developer proposes 225MW more utility-scale plants in South Africa

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Plans to build three solar PV projects with a combined capacity of 225MW in South Africa have been put forward by local developer Mulilo Renewable Energy.

The three projects will each have a capacity of 75MW and will be built on agricultural land in the country’s Northern Cape. The projects will collectively be referred to as Niewehoop Solar Park. The proposals are yet to gain the requisite approval from the National Department of Environmental Affairs.

The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) posted on its website a draft scoping report prepared for Mulilo by the country’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The report details the biophysical, social and environmental impacts of the three proposed installations.

The projects will require new transmission infrastructure, including substations and 132kV transmission lines to be built, according to the report from CSIR. Additionally, the company has proposed the building of an Iron Chromium flow battery system, using chromium chloride electrolyte-based energy storage, next to the substation sites. Other forms of battery storage including lead acid and lithium-ion iron phosphate technologies will also be considered before the project goes ahead, the CSIR report says.

Also, according to the report the projects could be built with either PV or CPV modules, with a decision yet to be made. Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) was ruled out, due to the large amount of water that would be required for such a system.

If approved, the projects will be the latest additions to South Africa’s rapidly expanding solar PV generation capacity. Online database wiki-solar recently reported that 500MW of utility-scale PV has been installed in the country to date, putting it among the global leaders in the sector. South Africa has a scheme in place, the Integrated Resource Plan for South Africa, which calls for the installation of 17,800MW of renewable energy by 2030. Mulilo Renewable Energy’s website cites a desire for the company to be responsible for 30% of that market while retaining equity in all projects.

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