Energy department signs solar deal

2013-05-14 12:19
Solar energy is becoming financially viable, according to an industry player. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Solar energy is becoming financially viable, according to an industry player. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Woolworths solar project

2013-03-28 09:58

Woolworths sustainability manager Justin Smith explains the reasoning behind the company's solar project in this YouTube video.WATCH

Cape Town - The department of energy has signed a deal with a solar production company to produce electricity from the sun.

The agreement specifies that Solar Capital, chaired by Dr Danny Jordaan, will build a solar project in the Northern Cape town of De Aar.

The R11.5bn project is estimated to create employment for 700 people during the construction phase, which will be reduced to 200 when the project is up and running.

"Solar PV energy will continue to reduce in price over the coming decade and it will be found by governments to be at a far lower cost than traditional fossil fuel and nuclear energy," said Solar Capital CEO Paschal Phelan.

The plant will take up 276ha and consist of around 225 000 photovoltaic panels, producing 75MW of energy at peak times.


Solar power has become more attractive as prices for electricity continues to increase in SA. The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) recently granted Eskom an 8% tariff increase though the company applied for 16%.

Eskom has been struggling to ensure an uninterrupted supply of electricity and as the country heads into winter, the use of gas turbines as a significant cost to electricity generation.

Eskom on Monday announced that more than 4 000MW of capacity was under maintenance.

"The capacity available to meet this evening's [Monday] peak demand is 34 769MW (including open cycle gas turbines) while demand is forecast 33 959MW. Current planned maintenance stands at 4 666MW. Unplanned outages are 4 105MW," Eskom said in a statement.

The Northern Cape province is an ideal area to install solar plants, but transporting power from distance usually results in transmission losses.

This view is supported by Gregor Küpper, managing director for SolarWorld Africa.

"From my point of the best way is to decentralise. If you've got a massive plant somewhere, you've got the build the infrastructure - you have to transport the electricity; you've got losses in the transport transmission lines," he told News24.

Solar Capital estimates that these losses would amount to around 20% of power generated on the project.

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

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