Sola Group, a renewable energy developer based in Cape Town, has obtained approval from the South Africa’s National Energy Regulator (Nersa) to build two 100 MW solar power plants.

Both projects will be located in the North West Province of South Africa. They will sell power through power purchase agreements (PPAs) to US titanium products supplier Tronox, which operates several mines and smelters In the region.

“The significance of this first initiative is that it will pave the way for many other large-scale private projects to receive approvals so that they can contribute to the generation capacity of the grid,” said Sola Group CEO Dom Wills. “It’s a clear signal to the market that private power is feasible and there are private funders who are happy to fund this market.”

The South African government raised the threshold for the distributed generation solar segment to 100 MW in August 2021, exempting developers from applying for generation licenses to improve the overall permitting process. The new rules also imposed a transmission fee to be paid to public service Eskom for the maintenance and upkeep of its energy transport infrastructure.

“Under this mechanism, energy can be produced by an IPP in an area connected to Eskom and sold to its customer in other areas connected to Eskom,” Sola Group said.

The company expects to complete financing for both projects in July. It plans to complete their construction within 14 months.

“The advantage of the wheel frame is that it allows perfect solar regions to be developed and used to supply power to perfect industrial and mining regions,” Wills said. “A perfect solar region is a flat area, with a high solar resource, very low environmental or social impact, simple underground conditions, and access to a strong grid node with good potential for energy evacuation.”

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