SA set for solar power boom - paper

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The Department of Energy has set aside R100 billion towards the growth of solar power in SA.
The Department of Energy has set aside R100 billion towards the growth of solar power in SA.

The Department of Energy's projects are expected to feed a growing amount of renewable energy in forthcoming years, the Sunday Times reports.

More than three million South African households may be powered by solar energy by 2030 if the Department of Energy meets its aims to add alternative sources to the national grid, the Sunday Times reports.

According to the paper, SA is on track to be Africa's leader in having the most solar farms, which are "mushrooming" in the Karoo, Limpopo and parts of the Eastern Cape.

A total of 47 projects have been awarded 20-year contracts in a R100 billion Department of Energy project dubbed the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

The Sunday Times reports that four solar parks have been built in the Northern Cape since the programme's launch in 2011, with a further six under construction. More farms are being built in the Free State, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, and up to 33 solar plants will power close to a million homes once they are completed.

The paper quotes Gareth Warner, MD of solar installation and design company Solarcentury Africa, who says SA is one of the world's top 10 countries pursuing renewable energy projects of this nature. "With a further few gigawatt of solar parks in the pipeline, the market is set to flourish," says Warner.

Ideal setting

Warner notes SA's climate is ideal for solar energy projects, adding that "most areas in the country average more than 2 500 hours of sunshine per year, among the highest in the world".

According to the paper, Scatec Kalkbult Plant - SA's first solar energy plant - went live in September last year and was developed by a Norwegian energy provider and local partners.

The plant is expected to power 33 000 homes by September this year, according to the Sunday Times.

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