SunPower has begun construction on its third solar power plant under the South Africa government’s renewable energy program (REIPPP). The 86MW Prieska solar power plant is located in the nation’s Northern Cape province and is expected to be fully operational in 2016.
"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® utilizes its Oasis® Power Plant technology for the project. The technology uses single-axis trackers to position high efficiency SunPower solar panels to face the sun throughout the day, increasing energy capture by up to 25% over fixed-tilt solar technology. The project’s design, construction and O&M services will all be conducted by SunPower. In addition, electricity generated from the project has been secured to sell to the regional public utility ESKOM under a power purchase agreement. Approximately 700 jobs will be created by the project during construction.
The project has been secured under a project development agreement with South African Mulilo Solar Enterprises and Total, SunPower's majority shareholder. The project company in charge of implementing the project is owned by affiliated companies including Total as majority shareholders (27%) and Mulilo Solar Enterprises (18%), along with four other partners including a local community trust. SunPower expects to produce up to 160MW of high efficiency solar panels annually at the new South African manufacturing plant.
In 2014, SunPower completed two projects totaling 33 MW, located near Douglas in the Northern Cape province.
(Photo: SunPower's high efficiency PV cell technology. Source: SunPower)