ABB kit for 75MW SA PV array

ABB has bagged a $25m order to supply electrical and control systems to the 75MW Kathu PV array in South Africa, as the Round 1 project races towards a spring 2014 finish.

ABB will supply and install a range of kit, including switchgear, distribution transformers, control and protection devices, and an advanced tracking system which aims to eliminate shadow on the panels.

The package will also feature a data-collection system that collects operational input from the trackers, the inverters, the string boxes and the substation to enable remote operation and maintenance – critical given the project’s distant location in the Northern Cape.

The Kathu project, downscaled from an original nameplate capacity of 81MW, will be one of the world’s largest PV projects with a single-axis tracking system upon its completion.

Kathu, which was among the first tranche of projects awarded in South Africa’s renewables programme, is owned by a range of players, including South African construction company WBHO, Italian developer Building Energy, and finance group Old Mutual.

China’s JinkoSolar was selected to supply modules, Italian firm Elettronica Santerno will provide inverters, and the tracking system is coming from Spain’s Ercam.

Last week ABB agreed to pay more than $1bn for US-based inverter maker Power-One.

Despite ongoing consolidation in the inverter space, including the bankruptcy last year of former top 10 supplier Satcon, the sector continues to become ever more fragmented, as incumbent players like Germany’s SMA struggle to gain market share in emerging markets like China.