Developed on a remote site 50 km south-west of Prieska, in the Northern Cape, the 86-MW Mulilo-Sonnedix-Prieska photovoltaic (PV) project was connected to the national grid in October, on schedule and within budget.
The PV installation, which took 14 months to complete, stretches across 125 ha and is valued at R1.4-billion.
Greg Austin, MD of juwi Renewable Energies, the Mulilo-Sonnedix-Prieska project’s developer, says it is the biggest solar PV engineering, procurement and constructionproject delivered in such a remote location by the company.
The energy derived from the project – capable of powering 86 000 homes – is believed to be the first PV project under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme to gain grid code compliance prior to reaching commercial operation, according to juwi Renewable Energies.
However, even though the Northern Cape is “one of the best irradiation areas in the world and has enormous future energy generation potential”, Austin says the grid connection in the region, as with projects in other areas in the country, is a significant challenge.
He says the operation and maintenance task is a core business of juwi Renewable Energies. “We understand that peace of mind for the investors, lenders and owners over the 20-year life span of a project is important, enabling them to achieve their returns on investment.”
The local community benefits in various ways from such a project, he says, pointing out that electrical and civils company Quebar Electrical & Civil Construction performed the quality checks on 275 000 modules and currently undertakes the operation and maintenanceservice on site.
Further, through the project period, 1 720 people were employed, of which 911 came from local communities.
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