EDF Renewables reached a significant milestone by finalising the legal close of its Umoyilanga Project in South Africa. This achievement included the formal signing of both the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Eskom and the Implementation Agreement (IA) with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, marking a critical step forward for the hybrid renewable power facility.

The journey to Legal Close began when a consortium comprising EDF Renewables, a prominent international renewable energy supplier, and Perpetua Holdings, a privately held investment company, secured the Umoyilanga project bid in March 2021 under the South African Government’s Risk Mitigation IPP Procurement Programme (RMI4P). Since then, early preparatory work has commenced, with the anticipated achievement of Financial Close by the latter half of October 2023.

Following Financial Close, the construction phase under the PPA is set to commence promptly, with the Commercial Operation Date (COD) expected to occur in May 2025.

This project represents a pioneering approach to energy generation, combining the strengths of solar, wind, and battery storage technologies to provide a dependable and dispatchable power source for the national electrical grid. Functioning as a virtual power plant, it seamlessly integrates power generation from two geographically distant sites, Avondale in the Northern Cape and Dassiesridge in the Eastern Cape, to create a robust energy solution.

Following the successful signing of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Eskom for the Umoyilanga Project, EDF Renewables has also entered into a turnkey Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) Agreement with China Energy Engineering Corporation (CEEC). This agreement signifies the next phase of the project, which involves finalising the design, procurement, and construction of the 115MW Avondale PV plant.

The unique combination of wind and solar resources, coupled with advanced battery technology, positions Umoyilanga to deliver a consistent 75MW of on-demand power from 05:00 to 21:30, aligning precisely with the requirements outlined in the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

The operational strategy involves the batteries at Dassiesridge primarily charging during nighttime hours using wind energy and discharging power in the morning before sunrise. During the daytime, the solar installation at Avondale takes the lead in energy production, supplemented by wind energy from Dassiesridge. Any surplus solar energy generated is used to charge the batteries at Avondale, which will then discharge power after sunset. This intricate system is governed by a sophisticated energy management system that continually analyses real-time data, including weather forecasts and Eskom’s energy requirements, to optimise the power supply dynamically.

The low-carbon electricity generated by this innovative project is poised to meet the electricity needs of approximately 120,000 households for an impressive 20-year period, based on the average residential consumption of 3,319kWh per household as defined by Eskom.

The Umoyilanga Project is not only a significant milestone in renewable energy but also a source of economic and social benefits for South Africa. During the construction phase, the project is committed to creating roughly 450 full-time job opportunities for local South African citizens. This not only boosts employment opportunities but also contributes to skill development and economic empowerment within the region.

Furthermore, the project emphasises its commitment to supporting the local economy by allocating approximately 40% of its capital expenditure toward local content, which includes the procurement of South African goods and services.

Over the course of the 20-year operational period, the Umoyilanga Project has dedicated 1.2% of its revenue to benefit local communities through various socio-economic initiatives.

EDF Renewables South Africa CEO Tristan de Drouas said: “The signing of the PPA with Eskom is a crucial milestone before financial close and the launch of the construction phase. Our teams in Gqeberha and Cape Town have been working very hard, so today’s legal closing is the achievement of a long journey.

“We look forward to realising this project in South Africa, supporting the government’s and our ambitions to develop low-carbon energy solutions for the future, and to help to solve the loadshedding crisis.”