De Aar Solar Power became the only Photovoltaic (Solar) project exporting power into the De Aar Municipality line on 3 December. This means that in future, when the power line is off due to scheduled maintenance by Eskom, or perhaps a fault on the line, De Aar Solar Power will be able to feed the whole of the De Aar town and surroundings areas. “Although our planned Commercial Operation Date is set for April, the project will in fact be able to produce enough power within the next couple of weeks to power the entire local town and neighbouring areas,” said Mainstream’s Savva Antoniadis, Project Manager for De Aar Solar Power.
Although the project is not the first in the region to export power to the grid, it is still a milestone for the region and the industry. The process also offered further opportunity for training the skills transfer. “This provided employees further opportunity to gain knowledge and skills related to a renewable energy power plant, from general workers all the way up to the project management team” concluded Antoniadis.
During the commissioning process, the inverters were switched on for a period of time to check their integrity and reliability. During this period, power was exported to the Eskom grid and consumed by Eskom customers. No problems were encountered during the process and reliability was in fact verified; meaning that the power from the inverter area has continued to flow to the Eskom grid. Each inverter area produces approximately 2.4 MW peak power. It is anticipated that 6 of the 19 inverter areas will be commissioned by 31 December 2013, resulting in approximately 14.4 MW of peak power being supplied to Eskom.
There has had to be close coordination between the project team and Eskom to ensure that all the relevant experts were available for the commissioning process; and whilst De Aar Solar Power remains in control of the photovoltaic plant, Eskom is responsible for the Eskom Substation. Residents of the De Aar did not experience any power outages during this commissioning process.