January 23, 2024
The biggest combined solar and battery power plant in Africa, developed by the Norwegian company Scatec, has started delivering electricity in South Africa. The Norfund-managed Climate Investment Fund has invested more than 400 million NOK in the project, that both avoids emissions and shows how battery storage can increase the importance of solar energy on the African continent.
Norfund has together with British International Investment invested in the project through the South African company H1 Capital, which is qualified as an “Black Economic Empowerment” investor in South Africa. H1 Capital owns 49 percent of the project.
Combining solar energy and battery storage
The Kenhardt facilities are amongst the largest hybrid solar and battery storage facilities in the world. With 540 MW solar energy and 225 MW /1140MWh battery storage, the facility will serve the national power grid from 5am to 9:30pm.
“Through this investment the Climate Investment Fund contributes with avoiding enormous emissions, in line with our mandate. At the same time the project, being the first of its size, demonstrates how battery storage can enable solar energy to play an even bigger part of the future power system in South Africa and other developing economies with large electricity demand,”Bjørnar baugerud, head of the climate investment fund in Norfund
Great need for risk capital
South Africa is currently facing an acute energy crisis and experience frequent power outages. During COP28 in Dubai they called for increased climate financing to secure a stable energy supply and to reach the commitments to step up the transition to renewable energy.
South Africa is the 14th most emitting country of greenhouse gasses in the world. The ranking is mainly a result of the big dependence on coal, which covers nearly 90 percent of the country’s energy consumption. The Cape Town based think tank Meridian has estimated that South Africa needs investments in renewable energy of more than 25 billion USD over the next ten years to reach its climate goals.
The Kenhardt project will annually contribute with avoiding 870 000 tons Co2, which is about the same as 430 000 Norwegian fossil cars.