The South African based renewable energy company, the Phelan Energy Group, has been shortlisted alongside its consortium partner, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, to develop one of the world’s largest photovoltaic (PV) solar facilities. Based in Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) 350 MW PV project is planned to be one of the largest international PV solar facilities once completed and will be considered a major achievement in the region.
According to Paschal Phelan, Founder of the Phelan Energy Group and Chairman of its subsidiary Solar Capital – which recently launched the largest solar farm in the Southern Hemisphere – the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is now one of the most active markets in the renewable energy industry, as a result of its optimal irradiation conditions, solid interconnection plans and availability of land.
Paschal Phelan believes that the track record of the Phelan Energy Group, particularly through its subsidiary Solar Capital, in realising large solar projects puts the company in a strong position to pick up the bid as part of a larger consortium. “We have been at the forefront of solar innovation since the company’s inception ten years ago and have already successfully delivered large scale solar plants in the very similar desert conditions of De Aar, Northern Cape, South Africa,” says Paschal Phelan.
The Phelan Energy Group formed a consortium with Tenaga Nasional Berhad, the Malaysian utility company that is a leader in generation and distribution with 10,000 MW of total installed capacity, and an additional 4,400 MW of generating assets under construction. According to the international solar power publication, PV Magazine, this consortium is one of seven shortlisted consortia for the 350 MW ADWEA project.
Paschal Phelan says that Solar Capital has been a preferred bidder for various bid rounds in South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) Programme, where it competed with many of the same companies now bidding in the Abu Dhabi project.
Paschal Phelan explains that the Phelan Energy Group is a long-term investor in all of its projects, so superior quality is a prerequisite for all of its bids. “We expect our solar farms to produce 75% to 80% of their peak power in 30 or more years’ time, which results in us investing in quality accordingly,” elaborates Paschal Phelan.
Paschal Phelan says that the Phelan Energy Group gained great experience with the development, construction and operation of the PV facilities constructed in the Solar Capital De Aar project. “Long-term relationships with the local community, contractors and grid providers have been formed, while finalising installation in a record time.”
“Past learnings are used in current projects to ensure better integration and faster execution with a key emphasis on quality. One key aspect is our dedicated Management Services division which leads an efficient and quality design group as well as supervising the entire operation to conclusion”, explains Paschal Phelan.
Paschal Phelan says that the experience in South Africa will provide a reference point for Solar Capital to cost a solar plant on the Sweihan site. “Further, the price of mechanical components have become standardised regardless of the locations they need to be delivered to.”
Paschal Phelan pointed out that while the project’s development will differ in costing (such as tax systems), local content requirements and labour costs that will influence overall construction costs and balance of systems in the two regions, the Phelan Energy Group plans on putting together a strong team to meet the needs and scale of the project.
“This will include balancing Tenaga’s high-value utility company background and Solar Capital’s own solar expertise, along with component providers with a local presence element and top Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) providers. This team would ensure that all aspects of the project are meticulously administered,” Paschal Phelan adds.
“The most important lesson is teamwork between all stakeholders to ensure prime performance at a competitive market price”, concludes Paschal Phelan.