ABB to build pilot solar energy plants in South Africa

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, will construct two solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants for Eskom, South Africa’s national electricity provider. The solar energy pilot plants, each of one hectare, will be located on greenfield sites adjacent to the coal-fired power stations at Lethabo, in the Free State province, and Kendal in the Mpumalanga province. They will be the first of their kind built in the country.

At the Kendal power station, ABB will provide a fixed tilt solar PV power plant with a station capacity of 620 kilowatts (kW) and production potential of 11,445,398 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. At the Lethabo site, the installation will comprise a single-axis tracking solar PV power plant with a peaking capacity of 575 kW and a production potential of 12,491,479 kWh per year.

The PV plants will be designed to operate independently to produce electrical power for use by the existing power stations and will be capable of remote operation and monitoring. The fast track projects are scheduled to be completed by November 2011 prior to the COP (Conference of Parties) 17 event on climate change to be held in Durban later that month.

“ABB technologies are playing a key role in facilitating the generation and grid integration of renewable energies,” said Franz Josef Mengede, head of ABB’s Power Generation business within the Power Systems division. “Solar power has an important role to play in our future energy mix and we are pleased to support Eskom in this pioneering effort.”

ABB has an extensive offering of products, systems and service solutions for the solar sector and has successfully executed a significant number of turnkey PV projects around the world. The company also recently invested in Novatec Solar, a leading provider of Linear Fresnel Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technology, which uses flat mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy onto a receiver to produce steam.