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Sonnedix sells South African operation

The Spanish company says it wants to focus only on OECD member states, indicating a withdrawal from Africa. The sale includes a solar farm in the Northern Cape, which has reportedly been affected by module backsheet failures.

Spanish developer Sonnedix has announced the sale of its South African solar plants, including the 75 MW Mulilo Sonnedix Prieska solar project, which pv magazine revealed needed remediation work because of reported backsheet failures.

The developer issued a press release stating it had sold its South African operation to Johannesburg-based pan-African peer BTE Renewables, which is backed by London financier Actis.

Sonnedix did not reveal the value of the transaction nor details of any solar plants transferred other than the 75 MW-contracted capacity Mulilo Sonnedix Prieska field, which was the subject of an investigation by pv magazine and Green Building Africa in February 2020.

Out of Africa

Quoted in the press release, Sonnedix CEO Axel Thielmann said: “We are moving our operations away from South Africa – where we’ve been successfully managing our 86.2 MW Sonnedix Prieska project for over five years – in order to align our sustainable growth strategy across OECD markets.”

Sonnedix’ website indicates the company had a 6.4 GW solar portfolio at the start of June, described as 1.8 GW of operational solar capacity; 400 MW under construction; and a development pipeline of 4.1 GW. It is not clear what the missing 100 MW relates to.

A list of Sonnedix projects on the site includes facilities, listed here in order of scale, in the OECD nations of Italy, Spain, Chile, Poland, Japan, France, the US, the UK, and Germany.

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pv magazine‘s investigation revealed remediation work was under way at the Mulilo Sonnedix Prieska field in February 2020, after reports of backsheet failures.

The ZAR 1.3 billion ($84.3 million) solar farm was supplied with 315 Wp panels from Chinese manufacturer BYD. South African solar manufacturer Artsolar also supplied BYD-branded products to the project.

German company Juwi was responsible for operations and maintenance of the site, located in Copperton, in the Northern Cape province.

BTE Renewables chief executive Robert Skjodt, quoted in the Sonnedix press release, said his company already owned two solar projects “in the same area of South Africa,” and that the acquisition would expand BTE’s clean power portfolio to 473 MW.

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Source: pv magazine