South Africa to Build 58MW Solar Parks

Construction on the $314M project is set to begin in January.

November 29, 2012
Manufacturing Group

Officials for SunEdison, Chint Solar, the Public Investment Corp., and the Kurisani Youth Development Trust, have closed a deal for $314 million in long-term debt and equity financing for two utility solar projects in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Standard Bank and Futuregrowth Asset Management are the two senior debt providers supporting both projects.

The two projects in Witkop Solar Park and Soutpan Solar Park total 58MW. The Soutpan Solar Park is expected to interconnect in January of 2014, while the Witkop Solar Park is forecast to interconnect in April of 2014. Construction of both projects is expected to begin in January of 2013.

Under the terms of the financing agreement, power generated from the two facilities will be purchased by Eskom, the national utility in South Africa, through a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Prior to committing to the projects in South Africa, SunEdison performed extensive tests and models to determine the optimal design and projected output of the facilities. Once the projects are operational, they will be monitored around the clock by SunEdison's fleet-wide Renewable Operations Center (ROC). The ROC will leverage the SunEdison Environmental & Energy Data System (SEEDS) to help maximize the efficiency of the facility by tracking its actual performance against its predicted output.

Dr. Chuan Lu, the Vice President of Chint Solar, says the projects would help to demonstrate the potential of solar power to create jobs and stabilise the electricity supply.

"South Africa has higher solar irradiance than other countries which have invested heavily in solar power, such as Germany," says Dr. Lu. "Chint Solar has been continuously keeping its commitment to developing solar energy around the world. We are confident that in the years to come, more solar energy projects will be announced, furthering energy security in the region."

"The Public Investment Corporation always seeks to invest in projects that aim to achieve the Government Employee Pension Fund's dual objective of investing for financial return and for positive social, economic, and environmental results," says Dr. Dan Matjila, the PIC's Chief Investment Officer. "PIC is passionate about environmental sustainability and contributing towards cleaner energy and a greener economy, hence we saw value in this investment. Over and above that, PIC is pleased that this investment will contribute immensely to job creation, particularly in Limpopo. The project is expected to create 318 jobs during construction, and 55 jobs on an on-going basis, with 44 of those designated for historically disadvantaged individuals. This investment will stimulate much-needed economic activity, thus directly contributing to the country's economic development agenda."