The SOLA Group has started construction on a groundbreaking and innovative new renewable energy initiative.
The multi-buyer project is a 195 megawatt (DC) solar photovoltaic plant that will be the first to sell power to multiple buyers across the country on flexible terms, allowing energy users to access short-term clean power contracts to meet their decarbonisation and cost-saving goals.
SOLA has secured an initial three premium, multinational energy users as anchor buyers for the project, enabling the multi-buyer platform, and another major industry milestone for SOLA. The project represents a capital investment of R2.8 billion, with SOLA as majority equity shareholder.
A significant portion of the project’s capacity has been reserved for flexible, short-term power purchase agreements to be made available to a wide range of South African energy users. This will allow businesses to access affordable and reliable renewable energy, even if they are not able to commit to a long-term contract. SOLA will exclusively market and facilitate the sale of the available power.
“The government has embarked on a process to unbundle Eskom and eventually create competition among multiple electricity suppliers. In this sense, SOLA is pioneering the first steps toward a more flexible and efficient electricity system and makes use of the existing Eskom wheeling framework to bring choice and flexibility to South African businesses,” says Dom Wills, CEO of the SOLA Group.
“SOLA’s 15-year track record in the renewable energy market allows us to connect our long-standing relationships with our clients to our large-scale power generation assets that are producing some of the most cost-effective and cleanest energy in the world,” says Simon Haw, head of Business Development and a co-founder at SOLA Group.
SOLA plans to sign up interested buyers for the uncontracted power from mid-2024, with delivery of energy set for mid-2025. The facility is majority black-owned and is being built in the Free State Province.
“This is the fourth utility-scale renewable wheeling project that SOLA has closed and commenced construction on in the last 15 months. The project firmly establishes SOLA as South Africa’s leading IPP [independent power producer] engaged in the sale of power to private buyers, and brings the group’s portfolio to 581 megawatts of wheeling capacity currently under construction,” says Katherine Persson, head of SOLA Assets.
These projects are creating nearly 1 500 jobs for the surrounding communities and are providing training to more than 40 local small and medium enterprises on a range of key business skills. By mid-2025, SOLA’s fleet will generate 1.34 terawatt-hours annually, or enough to power nearly 500 000 homes.
The SOLA Group is a proudly 100% South African–owned, vertically integrated provider of renewable energy solutions, which has been at the forefront of the growth of the country’s renewable energy sector for more than 15 years. SOLA’s expertise lies in the origination, development, financing, engineering design, construction, project management, operations and maintenance of renewable energy facilities.