Renewable-energy project development company Aurora Power Solutions (APS) is involved in the development of two solar photovoltaic (PV) projects that are scheduled for commercial operation in the first half of 2017, says APS project development manager Oliver Johnston.
APS owns two 5 MW PV projects, which were awarded preferred bidder status under the Small Projects Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (SPIPPPP) in October. The SPIPPPP has a cap of 5 MW as opposed to the cap of 75 MW for the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
Johnston expects that APS will reach financial close for the projects in the second quarter of this year, and believes that construction will be completed by the second quarter of 2017. The projects will be located in the Northern Cape, which has the “best solar resource in the country”, he adds.
Each project should provide about ten-million kilowatt hours a year, and create about 60 equivalent construction jobs and 205 equivalent operational jobs. Both projects will support the community’s socioeconomic development through side projects and initiatives. APS plans to retain its majority share ownership of the two 5 MW projects.
APS has contracted its subsidiary and solar energy solutions provider Sola Future Energy to handle the engineering, procurement and construction of the projects.
An APS developed project, the Sirius 75 MW solar project, near Upington, in the Northern Cape, won preferred bidder status in Round 4 of the REIPPPP, with APS under the ownership of the Norwegian solar independent power producer Scatec Solar. APS continues to manage certain aspects of the plant’s development.
Sirius received preferred bidder status in April last year and Johnston expects that it will reach financial close by the end of April. Once operational, Sirius will provide about 180-million kilowatt hours a year of clean energy.
Johnston says the project uses solar tracking technology, where the panel tilts on a single axis to follow the progression of the sun. The single-axis tracking system produces higher energy yields than an equivalent fixed-tilt system without drastically increasing capital expenditure.
Panels on PV trackers gather the available direct light, with the tracking function reducing the angle of incidence between incoming light and the PV panel. This increases the amount of energy produced from a fixed amount of installed capacity, he explains.
Most of the company’s projects are independently owned and operated. All of them are licensed by the Department of Energy and Eskom under a set of agreements to produce energy for national consumption through power purchase agreements.
The company does consultation work, but its primary goal is to originate and develop projects before selling them to other utilities. Thus far, 255 MW of solar PV projects originated by APS have been successfully awarded under the REIPPPP and the SPIPPPP.
APS is implementing private solar PV roof systems through its subsidiary company, Sola Future Energy, which has already installed over 5 MW of rooftop PV throughout South Africa.