Mainstream Renewable Power begins building 100MW PV projects in South Africa

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Irish developer Mainstream Renewable Power is ready to break ground on two proposed solar projects in South Africa after inking financing, power purchase and implementation agreements with the South African government.

The two PV projects are part of a larger €500 million (US$635 million) investment in South Africa that also includes a wind power project.

Combined, the two PV projects and the wind power project have a total capacity of 238MW. The two solar projects each have a capacity of 50MW while the wind project has a capacity of 138MW.

The company will issue a 'notice to proceed' to its construction contractors this week for all three projects, which are scheduled to be fully operational by mid 2014. Siemens has been appointed as the EPC provider. 

Both solar projects will be located in the Northern Cape. The 50MW De Aar solar PV farm will be built in the municipality of Emthanjeni while the 50MW Droogfontein solar PV farm will be installed near the town of Kimberley. The 138MW Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm will be located in the Eastern Cape.

During the construction phase, the projects are expected to generate hundreds of jobs, Mainstream said. When complete, the three projects are estimated to generate 635GWh of electricity annually which is said to be enough to power 48,000 households.

Mainstream Renewable Power developed the projects over a four-year period with its local partner Genesis Eco-Energy. It was responsible for obtaining all necessary permits, grid connects, project finance, construction contracts and equipment procurement. It will also manage the entire construction programme under the supervision of a joint committee with Globeleq.

In November 2011 the company created a consortium in which it acted as lead member. Members of the consortium include Globeleq which acts as the strategic equity partner, Thebe Investment Corporation, local engineering firms Enzani Technologies and Usizo Engineering and local community trusts.

Through the consortium, Mainstream bid for licences to build the three projects under the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP). In December 2011 the government announced that the consortium had been successful and that it had won all three contracts through the bidding process.

Commenting on the projects, CEO of Mainstream Renewable Power Eddie O’Connor said: “This milestone reinforces the leading position of Mainstream in the South African electricity market. We have recently raised money on the world markets which we are delighted to commit to developments in South Africa and we look forward to having the 238MW of wind and solar plant operational in mid 2014.”

In September Mainstream Renewable Power announced that it had obtained an investment worth €60 million from Macquarie Group which will help to fund the company’s international expansion plans.

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