South Africa electricity minister opens 540MW solar-plus-storage plant

By Andy Colthorpe
Electricity minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa
Electricity minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa (arms folded), visiting the Kenhardt project as part of an outreach trip to the Northern Cape. Image: Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa via X/Twitter

South Africa’s electricity minister has said the largest solar-plus-storage project, with a combined solar generation capacity of 540MW, and 225MW/1,140MWh of battery energy storage system (BESS) technology, in the Southern Hemisphere is evidence of efforts to mitigate the country’s difficult energy security situation.

Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa commented at the official inauguration of Norwegian developer Scatec’s large-scale co-located solar PV and battery storage project in Kenhardt, a town in the country’s Northern Cape.

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“It’s significant that we’re hosting the largest project combination of renewable PV and also battery storage. [It] simply means South Africa is a trailblazer, and we want to retain that unassailable position, I think, as a country,” the minister told a reporter from state broadcaster SABC.

Asked what it meant for energy security, Ramokgopa said the project underlines the essential need to bring online more generation capacity to add to what is produced by state utility Eskom, to help South Africa come out of a “very difficult situation of load shedding.”

Ramokgopa was joined by Northern Cape provincial premier Zamani Saul and Scatec CEO Terje Pilskog on Thursday (18 April) at the site of the Kenhardt project, which features three separate solar-plus-storage systems. The project is providing electricity to state utility and grid operator Eskom under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

The plants began commercial operations in December before this week’s ceremonial unveiling. As part of ongoing efforts to mitigate energy supply and peak demand management issues, Scatec is contracted to supply 150MW of dispatchable electricity from the complex between the evening peak demand hours of 5:30 pm and 9:30 pm daily.

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