Simon Batchelor from Gamos writes on the Witkop Solar Farm in Limpopo Province, South Africa,
At our recent network meeting in Polokwane, we visited Witkop Solar Farm which is within the municipality’s boundaries. Witkop is a 30 megawatt solar farm built and maintained by SunEdison in the province of Limpopo of South Africa. There is remarkably little on the internet to describe this installation although that may be a function of the ease of installing and running solar farms? It was part of South Africa’s push to get Independent Power Producers to install renewable energy. In an overview of the processes involved, Eberhard, Kolker & Leigland (2014) note the difference between South Africa’s competitive tender approach and a Feed in Tariff as used in many other countries. “South Africa occupies a central position in the global debate regarding the most effective policy instruments to accelerate and sustain private investment in renewable energy. In 2009, the government began exploring feed-in tariffs (FITs) for renewable energy, but these were later rejected in favor of competitive tenders. The resulting program, now known as the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP), has successfully channeled substantial private sector expertise and investment into grid-connected renewable energy in South Africa at competitive prices.”
Witkop was cited in the preferred bids in 2011 by the South African government, named in the pipeline in 2012, and construction started in 2013. As part of the terms of the financing agreement, power generated from the two facilities will be purchased by Eskom, the national utility in South Africa, through a 20-year power purchase agreement.
As part of our network meeting, SAMSET created a video ‘Aide Memoire’ of the visit, as seen below.