TotalEnergies to start building 216 MW solar plant in S.Africa

(Reuters) – TotalEnergies is ready to start construction of a 216 megawatt solar plant with battery storage in South Africa that should be operational in 2025, the company said on Friday.

Africa’s most advanced economy is battling to end crippling power cuts blamed on its ageing fleet of coal-fired plants, while seeking to transition away from the polluting fossil fuel.

The project in South Africa’s Northern Cape province achieved financial close on Dec. 14, TotalEnergies said in a statement.

The France-based energy company owns 35% of the consortium developing the project, with its partners Hydra Storage Holding and Reatile Renewables controlling 35% and 30%, respectively.

Vincent Stoquart, senior vice president for renewables at TotalEnergies, said the hybrid renewables plant, comprising a solar plant and a 500 MWh battery storage system, will supply continuous green electricity to the national grid beyond the hours of sunshine.

“This project will not only contribute to the country’s energy transition, but also to strengthening the resilience of its power system,” Stoquart said.

According to power utility Eskom, each megawatt can power 650 average homes, which means TotalEnergies’ planned plant could provide for about 140,000 households.

On Thursday, South Africa launched three bidding rounds for 7,615 megawatts (MW) of new power generation from renewable energy, natural gas and battery storage, as part of its drive to overcome the electricity crisis that has hit its economy.

To date, 90 renewable energy projects have completed construction and are operational, adding 6,180 MW of capacity to the grid, about a quarter of the country’s current demand, energy minister Gwede Mantashe said in a written response to lawmakers distributed by parliament on Thursday.

Nine projects representing more than 1,000 MW are currently under construction, he added.

(Reporting by Nelson Banya; Editing by Susan Fenton)