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Scatec Has Been Present In Africa For Over A Decade, And Connected Kalkbult, South Africa’s First Utility Scale Solar PV Project In 2013: Jan Fourie, General Manager – Sub-Saharan Africa, SCATEC

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JAN FOURIE - GENERAL MANAGER - SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA, SCATEC

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SolarQuarter Africa magazine got an exciting opportunity to interview Jan Fourie, General Manager – Sub-Saharan Africa, Scatec, and learned about the company’s presence in the region and the recent projects being developed by the company. We also learned about how Solar+storage is playing a major role in the company’s progress and what we can look forward to in 2022 from Scatec.

Please tell us about Scatec’s presence in Africa.

Scatec has been present in Africa for over a decade, and connected Kalkbult, South Africa’s first utility scale solar PV project in 2013. With current and future presence in countries like Egypt, South Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Tunisia, Lesotho, and of course South Africa – the company continues to participate across the growing renewable energy sector. Scatec has 1.73 GW of solar PV and hydro assets in operation and backlog on the continent. We are proud to be one of the largest and longest serving renewable energy power producers present in the area.

As a major solar power producer, how does Scatec view the solar market in Africa?

As a continent, Africa boasts arguably the greatest opportunity, not only for solar, but all forms of renewable and storage solutions, across the globe. A gap in electrification and generation capacity of many African states has seen a structured approach being developed to invest in a sustainable energy future of the area. Whilst development and policy are interlinked, Africa has seen significant growth in projects, investment, and participation in solar (renewable) – and the outlook for the future of the industry remains promising.

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Scatec has been awarded solar projects totaling 273 MW in the REIPPP Round 5 government tender in South Africa. How will this further the growth of solar in the region?

The REIPPP Programme is the South African government’s ministerial approach to renewable energy procurement in the country. The awarding of preferred bidder status, and the plans to reach financial close during 2022, shows the country’s commitment to its envisioned renewable future and planning. 2022 will also likely host REIPPPP Round 6, Round 7, and a storage (battery) window. These are activities which will hopefully continue to demonstrate the large-scale commitment by public and private sector to deliver clean, sustainable, and affordable energy. The model adopted in South Africa is used as an example on a global scale, and many Africa states are continuing implementation, procurement, and partnership for power production on a continuous basis.

How is solar+storage playing a key role in Scatec’s progress?

The urgency for cleaner power generation has been a catalyst for the rise in the uptake of renewables and the advances in battery storage technology. Renewable Energy is now more cost-effective and quicker to establish than ever before – and with no shortage of state support, have engendered a fertile and attractive investment landscape. Solar and wind already provide twice as much power to the national grid as nuclear. While renewable energy has not been dispatchable until now, exciting new developments in batteries and power storage have now enabled dispatchable power from renewable sources in efficient, cost-effective ways.

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Because power from renewable sources like photo-voltaic (solar panels) and wind turbines is intermittent by nature, renewable power plants tend to oversize their operations in order to create an excess supply. This ensures that they can always meet generation supply quotas even during prolonged periods of low wind or solar radiation. Efficient storage technology is essential to absorbing this excess and ensuring a constant output of dispatchable power.

Scatec’s own RMIPPP bid-winning scheme to supply 150 megawatts via three massive solar arrays in the Northern Cape of South Africa is a good example of this. The ambitious renewables-only project will see around one million individual solar panels set across a 10 km wide site – and will be co-located with advanced storage facilities utilizing lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery technology. Li-ion batteries are comparatively small (only hydrogen – and helium-based ones are smaller), which allows such facilities to achieve a favorable ratio of charge and voltage storage relative to volume and space requirements. Factor in the recent widespread surge in the industrialization of these technologies and the constantly decreasing prices due to the effects of ‘economies of scale’, and we have a recipe for fully feasible renewable energy, that is cost-competitive with traditional energy sources for the first time in South Africa.

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How is Scatec gearing up for 2022?

Scatec will continue to pursue its targets, for project exploration, submission, award, financial close, acquisition, and construction. The market for renewables is increasing in competitiveness, however, landscapes are different across the globe. The company’s home market is in South Africa, however, Scatec will continue to engage opportunities across the continent. The fully global operation will pursue projects in solar, wind, hydro, hydrogen, floating PV, and batteries. The demand for a clean and sustainable source of energy implores the need for an multi-technology approach, and Scatec is well-positioned to do so.

We look forward to continuing in partnering, locally and internationally, to improve our future.

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