Norway's Scatec Solar says three projects caught in South Africa row

OSLO (Reuters) - Three solar plants planned by Norway’s Scatec Solar were among 27 energy deals blocked by a South African court on Tuesday when it agreed to hear a legal challenge by a group loyal to ousted President Jacob Zuma, the firm said on Thursday.

State utility Eskom had been due to sign the 27 deals, mostly for wind and solar from independent power producers. It would have been the first major investment package under President Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced Zuma last month.

The court’s decision to block the renewable energy deals, worth a total of $4.7 billion, was a blow to Ramaphosa.

The move also hit Scatec Solar, as South Africa is one of its key markets.

“We have three solar plant projects that are awaiting signature from the government,” Scatec Chief Financial Officer Mikkel Toerud told Reuters in an email, adding that the three projects had combined capacity of 258 megawatts (MW).

He declined to comment on the potential outcome of the court challenge or when Scatec expected the deals to be signed.

Scatec Solar said this month that the new government would benefit renewable energy deals in South Africa.

South Africa’s North Gauteng High Court agreed to hold a full hearing on the challenge on March 27 after the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) and pro-Zuma Transform RSA said the deals would lead to coal industry job losses and should be scrapped.

Scatec Solar has three solar power plants in operation in South Africa, with a total capacity of 190 MW.

Editing by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Edmund Blair