Big SA solar plant shows Eskom how it’s done

The 96 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) Jasper solar power project came online recently, providing enough electricity to power up to 80,000 households.

The Jasper project is located in a Northern Cape solar park which includes the 75MW Lesedi solar power project which came online in May 2014.

With over 325,000 PV modules, the Jasper Project will deliver 180,000 megawatt-hours of renewable electricity annually for South African residents.

The project also marked Google‘s first renewable energy investment in Africa after the company provided US$12 million in funding.

Jasper solar power project details

The Jasper solar power project, developed by SolarReserve, was constructed within a year – two months ahead of schedule.

The project reached financial close in October 2013 and full construction began on site in December 2013. Full commercial operations were achieved a year later in October 2014. It cost approximately R2.9 billion ($260 million) and has created in excess of 800 direct construction jobs.

During the 20+ year operating life (the Jasper project has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Eskom) the project will spend in excess of R2 billion on operations and maintenance costs.

For the life of the project 1.6% of revenues will be re-invested in enterprise development (ED) and socio-economic development (SED) of neighbouring communities.

Jasper solar power project
Jasper solar power project

Jasper solar project versus Eskom’s Medupi coal power station

SolarReserve spokesperson Mary Grikas explained that the cost of photovoltaic solar power has come down dramatically in recent times.

“It is competitive with new build coal projects, especially when you consider the requirements for proper emissions control technology necessary to get coal projects permitted and financed,” said Grikas.

“The competitiveness of solar energy is being proven in many markets around the world including in the US, Chile, Brazil, China, and South Africa.”

Medupi, in comparison with the Jasper project which was completed early, is around 4 years behind schedule.

According to Business Day the Medupi project costs also escalated to R105 billion – R35 billion higher than the 2007 estimates.

The following infographic provides an overview of the two power projects.

Power stations
Power stations

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Big SA solar plant shows Eskom how it’s done