De Aar solar plant takes shape

2013-09-12 10:25
Workers install solar panels at a solar plant near De Aar in the Northern Cape province. (De Aar Solar)

Workers install solar panels at a solar plant near De Aar in the Northern Cape province. (De Aar Solar)

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Cape Town - The De Aar solar project has reached a milestone with the finalisation of the installation.

This week, De Aar Solar Power installed the last of around 160 000 solar panels in challenging terrain.

"We've installed exactly 167 580 solar panels by hand since April, which is something that we can be extremely proud of considering the rocky terrain that we've had to contend with," said Savva Antoniadis, Project Manager for De Aar Solar Power.

The project employed some 500 people, mostly from the De Aar community and the staff installed around 3 000 panels per day during the peak construction phase.

Solar power has emerged as the most cost effective way to jump start investment into renewable energy solutions.


According to a report on the Climate Action Programme website, the investment into renewable energy topped $5.7bn, as measurement by the United Nations Environment Program (Unep).

One the main rationales for increased investment is that the technology can be used to mitigate the effects of climate change.

However, there continues to be a sustained lobby that climate change is either not taking place or that it is not the result of human activity.

Several internet news sources have highlighted a "leaked" report from the IPCC that indicated that the Earth is cooling.

The scientific consensus says that the Earth has warmed by 0.8°C since Industrial times and it is likely that climate change could accelerate extreme weather events by the end of the century.

"The political reality is such that we have groups that have a vested interest in the near term," Professor Inez Fung from the University of California, Berkeley told News24.

This echoes the sentiment from Naomi Oreskes, professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California San Diego.

Oreskes, who co-authored Merchants of Doubt with Erik Conway, said that established science is usually conservative in its view, despite the accusation of exaggeration.

"We've heard a lot of noise lately about exaggeration of scientific claims - alarmism; hysteria - but actually, I believe that history shows that scientists have actually been conservative in their estimates and that global warming has begun to unfold faster than scientists thought," said Oreskes.

The De Aar plant, which will produce 45.6MW of energy, is meant to begin operations by 3 April 2014, but it is ahead of schedule and will likely come online before the target date.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    kimberley  |  renewable energy

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