Solar park not off the table

The release of South Africa’s electricity master plan known as the Integrated Resource Plan 2 (IRP2010) did not render the process of establishing the solar park in the Northern Cape superfluous, the department of energy said today.

The department quoted Energy Minister Dipuo Peters as saying: “A woefully wrong impression is being created that presupposes that, in view of the fact that the current draft IRP2010 only makes provision for the target of 600 megawatts by 2017, then it follows that the Northern Cape Solar Park will not happen as it falls outside of the IRP. This is not the case.

“Realistic targets for electricity generation can only be included in the IRP once we have completed the feasibility studies which will provide certainty with regard to, among others, the necessary core data with regard to the time frames for the implementation of the envisaged solar park, the scale of its operations, the mix of solar technologies that will be used to generate electricity using the sun rays as well as mechanisms that are needed to secure integration into the national grid,” she said.

The department was committed to initiating large-scale solar projects in order to contribute to the security of energy supply.

It was in this respect that the prefeasibility study that was conducted by the Clinton Climate Initiative confirmed that 5GW of cost-effective electricity generation was achievable through the deployment of solar projects. The draft IRP was written with enough flexibility to accommodate the solar park concept, the statement continued.

The solar park provided “the real arsenal” to deploy technology that could replace the fossil-fired power generation.

Peters reiterated government’s commitment that 30% of new generation capacity would be produced by independent power producers.

The development of a large-scale solar park would be a significant part of this once government had the benefit of reviewing the current draft that is out for public comment.?

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