Northern Cape-based Matla A Bokone Solar, near Kimberley, is now wholly South African-owned by Old Mutual Ideas Managed Fund, African Rainbow Energy and Power, Reatile Group, Phakwe Solar and the Cicada Community Trust.

The 75 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant spans 200 ha and has over 260 000 solar panels installed and is expected to generate 180 000 MWh/y of much-needed green energy.

The facility started commercial operations earlier this year, after having reached full grid code compliance in February, marking a significant positioning for renewable energy projects in South Africa.

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

Matla A Bokone Solar chief community operations officer Nomzamo Landingwe says the project was originally known as Droogfontein 2 Solar, but renamed to Matla A Bokone Solar, “a unique Setswana name, referring to the ‘power of the Northern Region’”.

In addition to the employment created through the contracting out of various services, over 450 people from the local beneficiary communities were directly employed on the project during construction of the plant.

During its 20-year operation, the solar plant will benefit a number of communities, spread throughout the Sol Plaatje area, through various economic development programmes which are aimed at building economic and social resilience, as well as increasing access to the local economy.

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

juwi Renewable Energies was the engineering, procurement and construction contractor, and handed the completed site over to the juwi operations and maintenance team in March.

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