thin solar
CSIR plant reaches commercial operation

In South Africa, a 558kW ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) plant at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has reached commercial operation. The initial testing was completed in 2015, Engineering News reported.

This project is part of the research facility’s goal of running its Pretoria campus 100 per cent on renewable power.

Flagship project

The ZAR10.7 million ($183 million) single axis tracker plant, was managed by South African renewable energy services and solutions provider, juwi Renewable Energy.

Engineering News reported that the plant can “rotate the PV modules to track the path of the sun, enabling it to yield more than 20% of additional solar energy a year than a similarly sized fixed ground-mounted PV plant.”

Managing director of juwi, Greg Austin, told Engineering News that this is a flagship project for the company and will set the benchmark for distributed renewable energy in South Africa.

“By pushing the market towards the lowest cost per kilowatt-hour offered over the project’s full lifetime, the CSIR demonstrates that it is possible for public entities to procure smaller- scale renewable-energy facilities at rates that undercut traditional grid-sourced electricity tariffs.”

According to Austin, the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) from the project allows juwi to achieve a cost of 83c/kWh over the plant’s lifespan by utilising the CSIR’s LCOE model, Engineering News reported.

According to media, the plant will generate an estimated 3.5 million kW/h in its first three years of operation.

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