Oper­a­tions un­der way for NC so­lar plant

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - News -

MATLA A Bokone So­lar, sit­u­ated just out­side Kimberley, com­menced its com­mer­cial oper­a­tions ear­lier this year, hav­ing reached full grid code com­pli­ance.

Matla A Bokone So­lar is owned by Old Mu­tual IDEAS Man­aged Fund, African Rain­bow En­ergy and Power, Reatile Group, Phakwe So­lar and Ci­cada Com­mu­nity Trust.

Over its 20-year oper­a­tions pe­riod, the project will en­sure par­tic­i­pa­tory in­clu­sion of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties in the de­sign and im­ple­men­ta­tion of so­cio-eco­nomic and en­ter­prise de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives.

Nomzamo Land­ingwe, chief com­mu­nity oper­a­tions of­fi­cer for Matla A Bokone So­lar ex­plained that the project was orig­i­nally known as Droog­fontein 2 So­lar. Fol­low­ing an ex­ten­sive com­mu­nity ac­ti­va­tion cam­paign, the fa­cil­ity has been re­named Matla A Bokone So­lar, a unique Setswana name, re­fer­ring to the ‘power of the North­ern re­gion’.

The 75MW so­lar PV plant, which com­menced con­struc­tion in Oc­to­ber 2018, has over 260 000 so­lar pan­els in­stalled and is ex­pected to gen­er­ate 180 000 MWH of much-needed green en­ergy each year. The 200-hectare plot of land, on which the plant is con­structed, Droog­fontein No.62, is leased from the Droog­fontein CPA com­mu­nity.

More than 450 peo­ple from the lo­cal ben­e­fi­ciary com­mu­ni­ties were di­rectly em­ployed on the project dur­ing con­struc­tion. This is in ad­di­tion to the em­ploy­ment cre­ated through the con­tract­ing out of var­i­ous ser­vices.

Dur­ing its 20-year oper­a­tions, the so­lar plant will ben­e­fit a large num­ber of com­mu­ni­ties through var­i­ous eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes.

Ac­cord­ing to Land­ingwe, these pro­grammes are aimed at build­ing eco­nomic and so­cial re­silience, as well as in­creas­ing ac­cess to the lo­cal econ­omy.

The com­mu­ni­ties that stand to ben­e­fit in­clude Barkly West, River­ton, Kimberley, Kimberley Cen­tral, Green­point, Galeshewe, Rood­e­pan, Plat­fontein, Hol­pan, Del­portshoop, Wind­sor­ton, Ritchie, and Boshof.

Al­though eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment fund­ing of­fi­cially com­mences once the so­lar plant begins its 20-year oper­a­tions pe­riod, Matla A Bokone So­lar chose to im­ple­ment early ben­e­fi­ciary pro­grammes to be­gin com­mu­nity sup­port as soon as pos­si­ble, through ex­tra­or­di­nary fund­ing. This in­cluded an en­ter­prise de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme that funded lo­cal SMMES.

The men­tor­ing and coach­ing pro­gramme also in­cluded a quan­tity sur­vey­ing ser­vice to these small lo­cal busi­nesses.

Ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the pro­gramme in­cluded six­teen black-owned SMMES, four of which are women-owned.

Juwi Re­new­able En­er­gies was the en­gi­neer­ing, pro­cure­ment and con­struc­tion (EPC) con­trac­tor, which man­aged the con­struc­tion pro­cesses, be­fore hand­ing over the com­pleted site to the Juwi oper­a­tions and main­te­nance team, ear­lier this year.

Patsy Beangstrom

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