French group Engie has signed a 20-year power purchase deal with South Africa’s state-owned utility Eskom to connect 100 megawatts (MW) of solar power onto the national grid in 2018 from its Kathu Solar Plant.
Eskom, which provides virtually all of South Africa’s power, is facing a funding crunch as it races to bring new power plants online.
With year-round sunshine and thousands of miles of windswept coast in South Africa, investors are warming to the renewable energy potential, with 66 projects completed or underway since the government launched a first bid round four years ago.
Construction of the Kathu Solar Park, situated in the Northern Cape Province, is expected to begin shortly, Engie said in a statement.
Other investors include South Africa’s Investec Bank, state pension fund Public Investment Corporation, SIOC Community Development Trust and Lereko Metier.
The project is funded by a mix of debt and equity. The debt is funded from a club of South African banks, namely Rand Merchant Bank, Nedbank Capital, ABSA Capital, Investec and the Development Bank of South Africa.
Engie owns and operates two thermal power peaking plants, the 670 MW Avon plant, which is under construction, and the 335MW Dedisa plant that is already in operation.