Droogfontein Solar Power will be the first solar plant to supply Eskom with power in the Kimberley area; and one of the first solar projects to export power in South Africa. This is a milestone for the region and will ensure that the project remains on schedule. “Not only are we on track, but we expect to be fully operational prior to the planned Commercial Operation Date in April 2014,” said Mark Pickering, General Manager of Droogfontein Solar Power.
The export of power to the Eskom Grid will begin during the commissioning process, which is scheduled to start on 18 November. The process will be closely monitored by Eskom. Once the commissioning of the plant begins, a small amount of electricity will be exported to the grid to check the equipment’s reliability. “It’s very exciting to think that during this period, the power that is exported to the Eskom grid will be consumed by Eskom customers in the Kimberely area,” added Pickering. If no problems are encountered and the reliability is verified, the power from the inverter area will continue to flow to the Eskom grid. Each inverter area produces approximately 2.4 MW peak power. It is anticipated that six of the 19 inverter areas will be commissioned by the end of this year, resulting in approximately 14.4MW of peak power being supplied to Eskom prior to the December-January construction holiday.
There has had to be close coordination between the project team and Eskom to ensure all the relevant experts have been available for the commissioning of the HV substation and the solar power field. “The process will also provide employees further opportunity to gain knowledge and skills related to a renewable energy power plant, from general workers all the way up to the project management team” concluded Pickering.