Scatec, a renewable energy solutions provider, has announced that it has officially started producing and supplying electricity to the national grid from the three Kenhardt plants in the Northern Cape Province, in South Africa. Scatec says the Kenhardt project is positioned to make an important impact on the renewable energy landscape as one of the world’s largest hybrid solar and battery storage facilities. With an installed solar capacity of 540 MW of PV, and a battery storage capacity of 225MW/1,140MWh (BYD ESS), the plant is designed to deliver 150 MW of dispatchable power from 5 am to 9.30 pm year-round to the national grid under a 20-year power purchase agreement with South Africa’s national power utility company, Eskom.
The hybrid solar and battery storage plant integrates solar and battery technologies, overcoming intermittency challenges and bolstering grid stability. With the ability to deliver reliable power in low or no sunlight, the integrated storage enhances overall reliability. Dispatchable power production and releasing stored energy during peak demand make these plants ideal for meeting region-wide energy needs during high consumption periods.
The three Kenhardt plants are part of South Africa’s Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP). The main objective of the RMIPPPP is to procure new generation capacity based on:
- a range of source technologies to address the electricity capacity supply gap as identified South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) of 2019
- reducing the extensive utilization of expensive diesel-based peaking open cycle gas turbine (OCGT) generators in the medium-to-long-term.
With a total investment of approximately $1 billion, Scatec says the Kenhardt project marks the largest commitment in its history. The project debt is provided by a group of lenders that includes The Standard Bank Group as lead arranger and British International Investment (BII).
“Today, we embark on an exciting journey into a new era of energy solutions. The Kenhardt project symbolises not only a technological triumph but a commitment to shaping a sustainable future,” says Terje Pilskog, CEO of Scatec. “This is more than just a power plant; it is a testament to the limitless potential of integrating solar and battery storage to meet the evolving energy needs of today and tomorrow. I would like to congratulate the team of Scatec ‘changemakers’ who have delivered this innovative project on schedule, within budget and with good HSSE performance and thank all partners and stakeholders who have been integral to this success.”
Jan Fourie, EVP of Sub-Saharan Africa, emphasizes the significance of this endeavor, stating, “This is not just about powering homes; it is about empowering communities. The Kenhardt project showcases the resilience and reliability of renewable energy, proving it to be a steadfast source of electricity capacity for the grid. Dispatchable renewables are the future.”
“The progression from the development phase through construction, and now reaching the stage of commercial operation, has been a rewarding experience. We are ready to generate electricity and play a vital role in advancing South Africa’s green energy production with this innovative hybrid energy solution,” adds Fourie.
At peak construction, the site employed 2,600 workers, with a high proportion of women, fueling local employment and community benefits. Spanning 879 hectares and measuring 10 km north to south, construction started in July 2022 and included the installation of almost 1 million PV modules. The battery facility is comprised of 456 units, each matching the size of a shipping container, weighing thirty tonnes. The extensive project involves more than 9,000 kilometers of cabling, equivalent to the distance from Norway to South Africa.
It’s great to see more large energy storage projects coming online in South Africa. Just 2 months ago, Eskom unveiled another large battery storage project. Eskom’s Hex site is specifically designed to store 100MWh of energy, enough to power a town such as Mossel Bay or Howick for about five hours. It forms part of Phase 1 of Eskom’s BESS project, which includes the installation of approximately 833MWh additional storage capacity at eight Eskom Distribution substation sites in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and Northern Cape.
Images courtesy of Scatec and BYD
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