Photo essay: Inside SA’s R5bn solar farm

Added by Sungula Nkabinde on 18 March 2016. · · Share this Post

Filed under Editor's pick, In-depth

The multibillion-rand facility, the largest in the southern hemisphere, is set to stimulate Northern Cape economy. By Sungula Nkabinde.

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The largest solar farm ever completed in the southern hemisphere, Africa and the Middle East region is now in operation and has the ability to provide power to approximately 75 000 South African homes every year.

The 175MW, 473-hectare facility is operated by Solar Capital in De Aar, Northern Cape and is the culmination of a R4,8bn, two-phase project. It consists of 503 942 solar modules and was built over a period of 28 months, employing more than 2 000 people.

The project was made possible through the department of energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPP), which allows for foreign investment in renewable energy.

Paschal Phelan, chairman of Solar Capital, said at the launch of the facility on Thursday that it was an important example of how solar power can assist in solving the current energy crisis in South Africa.

“The Northern Cape of South Africa has some of the highest irradiation levels in the world, with the location of this facility boasting 2 168kWh/m². This allows the abundant sunlight in the region to be converted into green energy to be transferred to the national energy grid.”

The solar project is expected to jump-start the economy of De Aar, with 100 people to be employed to carry out the operation and maintenance of the plant, while more than R24m will be spent by the end of 2016 on economic development in projects such as a community leaders development programme, free Wi-Fi for the town of De Aar, a large community training centre that houses a computer training laboratory, as well as an arts training and exhibition centre.

“We plan to create over 5 000 jobs in the Northern Cape,” said Phelan, at the launch, explaining that the project should inspire confidence in the citizens of De Aar. He said that Cape Town and Johannesburg need not be the only economic hubs within the country.

“[We hope that] De Aar will have its own hotel and its own industrial base [someday].”

  • This piece was originally published on Moneyweb and is used here with permission
  • All photos by Roger Sedres/ImageSA
  • Mike Watkins

    R5 Billion? I wonder how much cheaper it would have been if the tripartheid regime had been in jail; When it was built?

  • Skerminkel

    Relax man, this is a good story!
    According to the piece, they built it over 28 months. From other stories I believe they finished at the end of last year.

  • William Stucke

    Gee, wow! On a levelised capacity basis, that’s only 40% more per kW than Zuma’s baseload nuclear fleet.

  • Werner Ackermann

    That’s assuming the Nuclear comes in on budget, which is highly unlikely.

  • LuminaSS

    Excellent and Africa is seen as a place with backward thinkers. (See comments below)

  • J.

    neo-Bolshevik South Africa is usually only seen by outsiders according to the controlled zio-news narrative propaganda. Given the gross incompetence and corruption of the current anti-White administration, I wonder how long it will last?


    It would be very good to have many solar powered plants which are smaller in size as this will provide the electricity for homes in all of the villages and small towns.
    There is a great need for smaller local solar electric plants. Many people have their own solar plant on their roofs. It is good for Africans to have solar power. When we have it in the UK we have so much rain the panels are under achieving, not just the rain but all of those aircraft trails which make our skies cloudy and hazy are also destroying the performance of our solar panels. Stop geo-engineering in the UK because it makes the weather much worse than it should be.