SA fund buys into Touwsrivier

French concentrating PV (CPV) developer Soitec has been given the final go-ahead by South Africa's Department of Energy to change the financing structure of its 44MW Touwsrivier solar project.

The green-light clears the way for the South African government's employee pension fund (GEPF) to come on board as a 40% stakeholder in the development, with Soitec retaining a minority share.

Construction of the Touwsrivier CPV farm recently passed the half-way milestone, following commissioning of the first 22MW of modules.

"This investment will contribute to the country’s much needed alternative energy needs thus contributing towards easing the current electricity pressures the country is experiencing as well ensure good returns," says Daniel Matjila, chief investment officer at the Public Investment Corporation, which represents the GEPF.

Commercial operation of the Touwsrivier plant, for which a power purchase agreement was inked in 2012, is currently slated for Q2  2015.

Soitec’s CPV modules, which use banks of Fresnel lenses to focus sunlight 500-fold on to triple-junction cells, have shown efficiencies of 31.8% in the field.

The company's four-junction Concentrix CPV cell has achieved 44.7% efficiency in testing by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy.