Prieska solar plant reaches financial close

During December 2014, Independent Power Producer Sonnedix reached financial close for a 86 MW solar photovoltaic project situated in Prieska, Northern Cape. The Prieska solar plant as well as 15 other solar and wind projects reached financial close pursuant to the third bid window of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

The project is expected to begin site mobilisation in Quarter 2 of 2015 and commercial operation by Quarter 3 of 2016. The Prieska project itself was co-developed with Mulilo, which remains a minority partner. Debt financing has been provided by Nedbank and Standard Bank, while Juwi Renewable Energies has been appointed as the EPC contractor. Negotiations are still being finalised with a PV module supplier. The project will be configured as a fixed-tilt plant and will incorporate around 300 000 PV modules.

Engineering News – 6 January 2015

Electricity buy-back from the residential, commercial and industrial sector

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa suggested in a draft discussion paper that it is seeking to establish a framework that would enable homes and businesses to receive credits for providing surplus power they generate from rooftop solar panels back into the electricity grid. Net-energy metering, measured in kilowatt-hours, will be used instead of rand, the regulator said. Each month, the electricity that small-scale generators produce in excess of their own consumption will be sent back to the grid and credited to their accounts for up to one-yearly billing cycle, after which any remaining credit is forfeited to the distributor.

  Fin24 – 5 January 2015

First synchronisation at Medupi delayed

The Medupi power station failed to meet its deadline for the first synchronisation of Unit 6 on 24 December 2014. However, Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger has stated that the synchronisation of Unit 6 should be reached before the end of February 2015 and that the 794 MW unit will be fully operational.

The latest delay has been attributed mainly to technical factors relating to the so-called steam blow through – a process designed to clean the boiler and steam system of debris accumulated during construction and to achieve the steam quality required by the turbine.

Etzinger says mitigation measures such as comprising regular internal inspection, shortening maintenance intervals and incorporating filter protection to catch residual particles are being introduced to limit the downside risks. Therefore, the pipework is being reinstated to facilitate the unit’s synchronisation in the coming weeks.

Engineering News – 8 January 2015

Two new CSP projects set to start development

The 100 MW Kathu Solar Park and the 100 MW Redstone Solar Thermal Power project were named as the latest preferred bidders, while the DoE and Eskom concluded power purchase, implementation and direct agreements for the 100  MW Xina and the 100 MW Karoshoek Solar One projects, identified as preferred bidders during the third bid window under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), reached financial close in December 2014.  The Redstone Solar Thermal Power project, to be located in Postmasburg, is being developed by a consortium led by SolarReserve of the US, and ACWA Power of Saudi Arabia, while a consortium led by GDF SUEZ, and comprising the Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust, Investec Bank, Lereko Metier and Public Investment Corporation (PIC), is backing the Kathu Solar Park.

  Following the signing of the Xina Solar One power purchase agreement in December, Abengoa reported that the plant would feature parabolic trough technology with a five-hour thermal energy storage system using molten salt. Construction of the $1-billion facility was already under way at a site near Pofadder and the plant was scheduled to come on line in the third quarter of 2017. Abengoa said it secured project financing from the African Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, IDC and the Development Bank of Southern Africa, as well as from South African banks RMB, Nedbank and Absa.

Engineering News - 9 January 2015