Norway solar supplier wants to cut out Eskom

Norway’s Scatec, the biggest solar power producer in South Africa, is considering direct sales to consumers who are forced to scramble for reliable electricity amid rolling blackouts.

“We are involved in a number of different negotiations, mainly with mining companies,” Scatec CEO Terje Pilskog said in an interview.

“We’re also looking at local platforms where we can build out projects and basically sell to multiple off-takers,” which would allow for sales to smaller entities rather than just big miners.

South Africa has suffered from blackouts for 15 years as energy demand surges while ageing power stations are poorly maintained, and state utility Eskom is saddled with debt.

Outages can occur for as long as 12 hours a day, and trust in government has collapsed due to a decline in public services.

Scatec currently sells power to Eskom. The Oslo-based company is also looking to expand the use of its modular solar and battery equipment in South Africa after raising $102 million in July.

The concept, known as Release, allows for relatively easy shipping and installation of solar gear. Scatec aims to provide as many as 8,000 MW in the country, up from 448 MW currently.

“Rather than depending on the World Bank and those kinds of guarantees, we get smaller, shorter guarantees from the off-taker,” Pilskog said. “We know if they stop paying, then we take it away, and we can put it somewhere else.”


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