On Thursday, Italian renewable power company Enel Green Power (EGP) announced that it has initiated the construction of the 82.5MW Pulida solar power plant in South Africa’s Free State Province.
According to EGP, once the plant is in full operation it will have the capacity to generate an estimated 150GWh per year and save 138,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
EGP said the solar-generated power will be sold to the South African parastatal Eskom through a 20-year power supply agreement, which was awarded in October 2013 under the South African Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
Investing in South Africa’s power system
Enel’s chief executive officer Francesco Starace told Reuters that the power company intends to add an additional 5,000MW of renewable power in South Africa within five years through its 69% owned EGP unit.
Starace claimed that parent company Enel has intentions to invest in African power grids, which will make it Africa’s second largest power group after state utility Eskom, according to Enel.
Starace told Reuters at the Business and Climate Summit in Paris: “For us, Africa is the next Latin America. In five years, Latin America will no longer be emerging but emerged.”
Additional South African power plants
In the third phase of the REIPPP programme, EGP was selected to develop the 111MW Gibson Bay and 88MW Nojoli wind farms in the Eastern Province, as well as the Northern Cape 82.5MW Aurora solar plant, the Western Cape 82.5MW Paleisheweul solar plant and 66MW Tom Burke solar power projects.
In April, the preferred bidders for Round Four were announced where EGP was awarded a further 425MW of onshore wind power projects.
The Business Recorder reported that the Italian firm has plans to complete an investment in African grids within the next few weeks.
Starace said: “In grids there is huge potential for Africa.”
According to the newsaper, Starace did not give comment on further details but added that micro-grids that integrate various power sources are the future for Africa.
Starace claims that South Africa’s power outages is the result of an accelerating economy, strong demographic growth and lack of spare capacity.
“Demand growth went out of control. With this peak demand, Eskom embarked on huge plans, but these invariably take longer and more money to complete,” Starace said.