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South Africa: Four BioTherm projects reach financial close


27 Jul 2018

BioTherm Energy, a portfolio company of private equity firm Denham Capital, on 25 July reached financial close at four wind and solar projects selected in the fourth round of South Africa’s renewable energy independent power producer programme (REIPPP) in 2015. The projects signed government-backed 20-year power purchase agreements with national utility Eskom in April following years of delay. Up until the intervention on the government forced a change in policy, the utility refused to sign agreements with any project selected through the programme, claiming they would negatively impact its desperate financial situation. Together, the plants will cost around $500m to build

The four projects are:

  • Golden Valley wind farm (120MW) located near Cookhouse in the Eastern Cape, which is expected online in Q4 2020. The project will use 48 2.5MW GW121/2500 permanent magnetic direct drive turbines supplied by Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology subsidiary Goldwind Africa, which is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project.
  • Excelsior wind farm (32.5MW) located near Swellendam in the Western Cape, which will come online in Q4 2019. Exelsior will use 13 GW109/2500 turbines, also supplied by its EPC contractor Goldwind, which will cover an area of 2,400ha and generate around 116GWh/yr.
  • Konkoonsies II solar PV plant (75MW), expected online Q1 2020. The plant will be built by AT Solutions AG using single axis tracking polycrystalline silicon PV modules and cover a 267ha site near Pofadder in the Northern Cape.
  • Aggeneys solar PV plant (40MW), expected online in Q3 2019. Aggeneys will also use polycrystalline silicon PV modules mounted on single axis trackers with AT Solutions AG as the EPC contractor. The plant will be located on a 116ha site near Aggeneys in the Northern Cape.

BioTherm was an early mover in South Africa, being selected to develop three projects in the first round of the REIPPP: Aries and Konkoonsies I, both 10MW solar PV plants, and the 27MW Dassiesklip wind farm, also known as Klipheuwel. All three projects began operating in 2014. REIPPP projects are not allowed to be sold for three years following commercial operation, but with that period expired a lively secondary market has emerged, with notable involvement of Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed special purpose acquisition companies such as Gaia Capital and Hulisani.

BioTherm sold its stakes in its first round projects to former SunEdison yield company – a company established to own operating assets – Terraform Global, which was itself acquired by Brookfield Renewable Partners and its partnered financial institutions in December 2017. The projects are now in the process of being sold again to United Kingdom-based developer Globeleq, alongside three plants developed by SunEdison.

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