Massive R2.7 billion solar plant coming to the Eastern Cape

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has announced plans to construct a R2.7 billion solar power plant in the area to help deal with load shedding.

The Parsons Power Park project aims to bring 150MW to the area’s grid with the construction of the first phase (25MW) set to begin in November of this year. The first phase will take up to ten months to complete, the municipality said, and the future expansion of the park (125MW) will follow suit.

Nelson Mandela Bay is a hub for industry, with 50% of all the power it receives going to businesses. For this reason, and to ensure job security, the area needs to move away from Eskom, said executive mayor, Retief Odendaal.

“We cannot simply rely on Eskom,” he said.

Speaking to ENCA, the mayor said that the project would ensure a reliable electricity supply for residents already facing eight years of severe water restrictions. Odendaal said that this would unlikely be the only private energy generation project.

He said there had been a lot of interest in other initiatives and that the city is interested in purchasing around 100MW from independent power producers.

Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth, is known for its wind and clear skies, making the area the perfect climate for renewable energy such as turbines or solar.

Parsons Power Park is a joint venture with 16 companies being associated as main funders or sponsors. Companies involved include Natura Energy, RAW Renewables, ENS Africa, and SRK consulting, among others.

Natura Energy said that Parsons Power Park is “aimed at the commercial and industrial market, finds its rationale in the drive currently witnessed to open embedded generation in South Africa’s municipalities in good standing.

“At approximately 500m from the site is the Rowallan Park Distribution Substation, the Parsons Power Park can supply power anywhere in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan area,” the company said.

The solar photovoltaic power generation facility, developed by Raw Renewables and Natura Energy, is focused on producing competitively priced electricity for sale to large power users connected to the Nelson Mandela Bay municipal grid.

The Eastern Cape joins other provinces across the country, shifting away from the embattled power utility Eskom. The Western Cape has approached its provincial treasury for R1.1 billion to go toward energy independence.

In January this year, the Western Cape government also authorised the emergency release of around R89 million to procure backup generators.

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