Largest solar farm in southern hemisphere unveiled
South Africa has unveiled Africa’s largest solar farm in in southern hemisphere at De Aar, Northern cape. South Africa’s Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson inaugurated the 175MW Solar Capital, the largest solar plant ever completed in the Africa.
The launch is part of a two-phase project with the first phase having a capacity of 85MW while the second phase has a capacity of 90MW.
Cumulatively, the facility stands on 473ha with 503,942 modules and took 28 months to construct. A total of R2.2bn and R2.6bn was invested in the first and second phases – a total investment of R4.8bn
According to the minister, energy consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa has risen by 45% since 2000 and said government has moved to remove regulatory and political hindrances holding back investment in domestic energy supply.
The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement (REIPPP) program, which allows foreign investment in renewable energy farms, has seen a number of energy facilities established that are providing electricity to the national grid.
Solar Capital chairman Paschal Phelan, said: “The Northern Cape of South Africa has some of the highest irradiation levels in the world, with the location of this facility boasting 2168kWh/m². This allows the abundant sunlight in the region to be converted into green energy to be transferred to the national energy grid.”
Solar Capital has also invested in a number of long-term economic development projects in and around De Aar. During its construction, the facility created jobs for 2000 local people and currently 100 people are engaged in the plant’s operations and maintenance. R24 million will be spent on community-based economic development programs.