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SA to get a new kind of power plant, which combines wind, solar and batteries

In just 18 months, a pioneering 128 Megawatt (MW) power plant - which combines solar photovoltaic (PV), wind and lithium-ion battery storage - could be built in the Karoo, making it the largest hybrid energy project in Africa.

The Oya Energy Hybrid Facility was selected as one of the preferred bidders under South Africa’s Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP).

The plant will be developed by Cape Town-based project developer G7 Renewable Energies, which has been involved in developing two wind farms in South Africa, including the 147MW Roggeveld Wind Farm Project which is due to start operating next month.

The Oya Energy site is in the middle of the Karoo - falling within the Komsberg Renewable Energy Development Zone that straddles the Western Cape and Northern Cape. It is about 50km north west of Matjiesfontein, 50km north north east of Touwsrivier and 70km south west of Sutherland.

The plant will use wind turbines and solar photovoltaic array, combined with battery storage, to generate power.

The wind, solar and battery are regulated by a hybrid controller that will send power to the grid as needed. Most of the power will come from solar, it is expected.

According to Dr Killian Hagemann, co-founder of G7 Renewable Energies and director of Oya, the plant may only dispatch power between 05:00 and 21:30, under government terms. Any excess power will be stored in lithium batteries.

This stored energy will then be used to supplement wind and PV production during hours of shortfall – when the wind isn’t blowing, or the sun isn’t shining.

"Lithium batteries are the leading bulk storage technology worldwide. The RMIPPPP also has a particular focus on proven technology that's why we chose lithium-ion as our storage technology,” Hagemann told Business Insider SA.

Two of the eight preferred bidders in RMIPPPP combine wind with solar, said the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA).

“An advantage of renewable energy hybrid systems lies in their ability to combine two of the fastest growing renewable energy technologies. Hybrid systems can also take advantage of the complementary nature of solar PV, which produces power during the day, and wind, which produces most of its power at night,” said Ntombifuthi Ntuli, CEO of SAWEA.

Oya was ideally located - close to the national grid - and had powerful solar and wind resources. It also met various environmental impact standards.

The RMIPPPP is expected to inject R45 billion into the economy and procure some 2,000MW. The eight projects identified are expected to alleviate pressure on the national grid as a matter of urgency. The tariff's average price across all the projects was R1,575/MWh, said mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe.

The eight projects have been given until end of July 2021 to secure financing. It is hoped that the projects will be connected to the grid from August 2022. This includes floating power stations coming to Saldanha, Richards Bay and Gqeberha

The 8 preferred bidders include:

  • ACWA Power Project DAO

  • Karpowership SA Coega

  • Karpowership SA Richards Bay

  • Karpowership SA Saldanha

  • Mulilo Total Coega

  • Mulilo Total Hydra Storage

  • Umoyilanga Energy

  • Oya Energy Hybrid Facility


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