The Droogfontein and De Aar solar power facilities achieved their commercial operations dates during the first week of April 2014, having mobilised their construction teams in December 2012.  These independent power producers (IPPs), situated in the Northern Cape of South Africa have commenced their 20-year operations phase. “We have reached a significant milestone having satisfied all of Eskom’s requirements for operations to commence, including grid code compliance,” Mark Pickering, general manager of Droogfontein Solar Power and De Aar Solar Power, says.

“Over the 17 months of construction the two plants have always been neck and neck. In the end the De Aar team made it to commercial operations just a day ahead of the Droogfontein team, on 5 April.”

The Northern Cape was the first province in the country to connect utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) plants to the national electricity grid and expects to play a pivotal role in the renewable energy sector, due to the exceptionally high levels of solar radiation that the region experiences.

South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer program is now into its third year with most projects from Round One under construction and a handful under full commercial operation.

Droogfontein Solar Power was the first solar plant to supply the Eskom grid with power in the Kimberley area and one of the first solar projects to export power in South Africa. De Aar Solar Power became the only PV project to export power into the De Aar municipality line on 3 December. The two projects will both generate around 85,000 MWh per year.

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