Renewable energy start-up SOLA gets on the grid early

Solar Panels unsplash
Image: Unsplash/Michael Wilson

SOLA Group has reached commercial operation providing solar energy to Amazon Web Services (AWS) three months earlier than expected. This will fulfil the commission issued by AWS in December 2020 and represents the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) wheeling agreement in South Africa.

SOLA will wheel 28 GWh of solar energy from its Northern Cape plant to AWS via the Eskom utility grid

The 24 000 panels that make up the 10 MW solar PV plant are arranged across 20 hectares of sun-soaked remote landscape. SOLA opted for bifacial panels that follow the sun single-axis tracking modules, the low-cost leader in PV technology.

“This project, which comprises a 10 MW solar PV farm, has also received a sought-after generation license from NERSA, a milestone that other similar projects have struggled to achieve,” explains SOLA’s executive director Chris Haw.

The NERSA process requires a signed Power Purchase Agreement and fully developed project in order to obtain approval. “This creates contractual challenges because many inputs, such as the foreign exchange rate, are still fluctuating whilst the application process is underway. The high standard of development required for submission means that NERSA are not handing out licenses to projects that won’t proceed, which is a very good thing.”

The project aligns with the South African Government’s intent to open the electricity grid, allowing independent generators of electricity and consumers to enter into bilateral agreements to optimise the cost and sustainability of energy, which has previously been difficult to achieve.

The generation license received from NERSA is one of the first granted as part of the recent allocation made for distributed electricity generation to plug the short-term capacity gap. It also takes advantage of the environment created by the decision to lift the 100 MW license cap.

Read more: Solar startup Sun Exchange secures $2.5 million investment – Ventureburn

Feature image: Unsplash/Michael Wilson

Lindsey Schutters


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