US solar firm SunPower Corp said it has initiated construction work on the 86-MWp Prieska solar farm in the Northern Cape province.
Expected to be fully operational in 2016, the project represents the third solar power plant constructed by SunPower under the South Africa government's renewable energy program (REIPPP.) In 2014, SunPower completed two projects totaling 33 megawatts, located near Douglas in the Northern Cape province.
"With an abundance of reliable, cost-effective solar resources, South Africa is one of the fastest growing solar markets in the world today," said Tom Werner, president and CEO of SunPower, a global provider of solar technology and energy services. "We are pleased to grow our presence in South Africa with the development of solar power plants that enable South Africa's government to achieve its renewable goals, and look forward to continuing to serve the region with the opening of our new solar panel manufacturing plant this year."
SunPower has designed the project and will also offer engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) as well as operations and maintenance (O&M) services for it. The company’s majority owner, French oil and gas group Total SA, holds a 27% stake in the scheme, while South African firm Mulilo Solar Enterprises has 18%. The rest is held by four other partners including a local community trust.
The Prieska project, which is expected to be completed next year, is being developed under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP.) It will be selling its output to regional public utility Eskom.
SunPower has already finalised two solar plants totalling 33 MW under the government’s REIPPP programme. The company pointed out that it will be able to manufacture up to 160 MW of solar panels annually at a new factory in South African.
Approximately 700 jobs will be created by the project during construction.
By: Kristy Jooste