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27 July 2016

South Africa’s largest independent power project enters commercial operation

South Africa’s largest independent power project (IPP), the Avon Peaking Power facility located in KwaZulu-Natal province, has entered commercial operation. Mott MacDonald acted as owner’s engineer during the project’s conceptual and construction stages.

The 670MW Avon plant comprises four units using open cycle gas turbines to generate power and features fuel and water storage, allowing continuous operation for 45 hours. Together with its sister site, the 335MW Dedisa facility in the Eastern Cape which successfully reached commercial operation at the end of 2015, it will feed electricity into the transmission system via high voltage substations adjacent to each site in accordance with the 15-year power purchase agreement made with Eskom. The project is the first large scale IPP to reach commercial operation initiated by South Africa’s Department of Energy, who are aiming to diversify energy producers in the country, increase the reliability of energy and lower prices for consumers.

As well as the plant’s contribution to reliable power generation, it provided an employment boost in the local area, with over 80% of the construction workforce being sourced from the local province. Avon Peaking Power and its stakeholders embarked on various sustainable community projects focusing on education and biodiversity, as well as social and welfare initiatives and ways of advancing black economic empowerment enterprises.

Mott MacDonald provided owner’s engineer services to Engie, the lead stakeholder in the joint venture that also includes South Africa’s Legend Power Solutions, Japan’s Mitsui & Co and The Peaker Trust, which represents local community interests and economic empowerment initiatives. The consultancy offered technical advice to help achieve financial close before providing design reviews, works inspections, construction and commissioning monitoring.

Johann Weideman, Mott MacDonald’s project director, said: “The commercial operation of Avon represents a landmark not only for this project, but for power generation in South Africa. As the country’s largest independent power project and the first of its scale to be financed in the local market, Avon and Dedisa will significantly boost electricity generation and demonstrate the role similar projects could play in wider socio-economic development.”

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