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Red Rocket achieves financial close and starts construction of the largest grid-connected solar farm in Africa 

RED Rocket has announced the successful financial close for the 275 MWp Virginia  Solar Park, marking a significant achievement for the integrated Independent Power Producer (IPP). 

Since launching in South Africa, Red Rocket has won in each of the bid rounds of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers’ Procurement Programme  (REIPPPP). 

Located in the Free State about 140km north-east of Bloemfontein, Virginia Solar Park is the biggest solar farm under  the REIPPPP and has a contracted capacity of 240MW, for which Red Rocket was awarded under Bid Window 6.  

Altogether, the company secured the most megawatts awarded during this round, at 440MW, representing a  monumental victory of 44% of the MWs awarded in Round 6. 

CEO of Red Rocket, Matteo Brambilla, has welcomed the latest milestone by the company, which has boldly and  consistently held its own against large multinationals to become the most successful IPP in South Africa. 

“Red Rocket has been highly successful in REIPPPP bid windows as well as in the increasing C&I market.  We are proud to be the driving force behind REIPPPP’s largest solar project to date, but not only that, we can proudly  say the largest grid-connected solar farm on the continent is now in South Africa.” 

The announcement follows Red Rocket’s reaching financial close and commencing construction on its  three wind projects – Wolf Wind Farm in the Eastern Cape, Brandvalley and Rietkloof wind farms in the Western  Cape – awarded in Round 5 of the REIPPPP, and the Witberg Wind Farm with a private off-taker. With the addition  of Virginia, the Cape Town-based IPP has 750 MW projects under construction expected to reach commercial  operation starting from the fourth quartet of this year. 

Once construction is completed, the electricity generated from Virginia Solar Park will be enough to provide power for up to 240 000 homes, making a significant difference in the country. The project also stands to contribute over 331 full-time equivalent jobs during construction and operations. 

Virginia Solar Park joins other successful projects in the IPP’s portfolio – powered by its relentless mission to add  crucial capacity to the grid – and is set to go a long way in helping South Africa address its immediate and future  energy needs. The project is the culmination of a partnership between Red Rocket, investment holding company  Reatile, equity partners, Jade-Sky Energy, and the Red Rocket Opportunity Trust. It will be financed by Rand  Merchant Bank (RMB). 

A joint venture between PowerChina and Green Whistle will build the Virginia Solar Park under a turn-key EPC  contract. 

The Cape Town based IPP got a  $160-million (about R3-billion) cash injection last year from from Bill Kilgore Investments, a management shareholders vehicle, and a consortium of international clean energy investors that includes the Evolution II and III Funds managed by Inspired Evolution, STOA – an impact energy and infrastructure fund dedicated to emerging markets, and FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank.

It said at the time the money would be used to invest in  REIPPP projects and  also in Commercial & Industrial (C&I) projects

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