US firm wins Al Kahfah solar tracker package

23 February 2024

Riyadh-headquartered Acwa Power and India's Larsen & Toubro (L&T) have selected the US-headquartered Nextracker to provide solar trackers for the Al Kahfah solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Saudi Arabia.

The project is one of three utility-scale solar projects being jointly developed by Acwa Power and its partner, Water & Electricity Holding Company (Badeel). as part of the kingdom's National Renewable Energy Programme (NREP).

The US solar tracking manufacturer will supply its all-terrain NX Horizon-XTR product for the project located in the kingdom's Central Province.  

The area the solar plant will occupy underpinned the choice to deploy Nextracker's smart solar tracker systems for the Al Kahfah project.

The location is dominated by a hilly, hard-soil land surface that would otherwise typically require a combination of explosives and grading machines to flatten.

Nextracker’s all-terrain solar tracker system can conform to the natural terrain to reduce the need for costly land grading while significantly reducing environmental impact, Acwa Power and L&T said.

The project is understood to be the largest deployment of Nextracker's NX Horizon-XTR solar tracking technology in a single order.

Nextracker founder and chief executive Dan Shugar said the project bolsters the Saudi government's leadership in energy transition and the dominance of solar technology in driving the transition to renewables in the region.

L&T is understood to be the project's engineering, procurement and construction contractor.

PIF solar projects

Acwa Power and Badeel signed the power-purchase agreements with Saudi Power Procurement Company to develop and operate the three projects in May last year.

In addition to the Al Kahfah solar project, the developer team will also develop the 2,000MW Al Rass and 1,125MMW Saad 2 solar PV projects.

The projects are estimated to cost a combined SR12.8bn ($3.4bn).

The projects are expected to reach financial close after they have satisfied the conditions precedent for senior loans drawdown, as a recent Acwa Power bourse filing has indicated.

The banks that agreed to provide senior debt financing of SR8.6bn ($2.3bn) for the three projects include:

  • Banque Saudi Fransi (local)
  • HSBC (UK)
  • Mizuho Bank (Japan)
  • Riyad Bank (local)
  • Saudi Awwal Bank (local)
  • Saudi National Bank (local)
  • Standard Chartered Bank (UK)

The financing duration is 27.75 years. The project debt financing amount is non-recourse to Acwa Power, which owns a 50.1% equity in the three projects.

Its partner, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) subsidiary Badeel, owns the remaining 49.9% equity in the projects.

The three projects take the number of solar PV contracts awarded by the PIF under the kingdom’s NREP to five.

It awarded contracts for the development of the 1,500MW Sudair solar PV in 2021 and the 2,060MW Shuaibah 2 solar PV in 2022.

Badeel is a wholly owned subsidiary of the PIF, which is mandated to develop 70% of the NREP’s target capacity through the kingdom's Price Discovery Scheme.

The PIF also owns a 44% stake in Acwa Power.

Neither SPPC nor Acwa Power has disclosed the levelised electricity cost for the latest three schemes.

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Jennifer Aguinaldo
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