South Africa’s largest solar power project has now achieved full operational capacity giving a major and yet another boost to the country’s landmark Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme.
Earlier this month, South Africa’s energy minister launched a 90 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power project in the Northern Cape province. Combined with an 85 MW project at the same location the entire complex, of 175 MW capacity, is the largest solar power project in the country, an perhaps the African continent and the southern hemisphere.
The De Aar projects, that form the 175 MW solar power complex, have been developed by Solar Capital, a subsidiary of Phelan Holdings. The projects were secured by the company through the competitive auctions under the various phases of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
The entire complex is spread over 473 hectares and includes over half a million solar power modules. Power generated from the complex will be able to power about 75,000 homes in South Africa. Chairman of Phelan Holdings at the launch of the new project said that, “The Northern Cape of South Africa has some of the highest irradiation levels in the world, with the location of this facility boasting 2168kWh/m². This allows the abundant sunlight in the region to be converted into green energy to be transferred to the national energy grid.”
The REIPPPP has been very successful so far and, as a result, the South African government, last year, decided to increase the capacity addition target under the programme. The initial plan under the REIPPPP was to offer just 3,725 MW, however, the response of the developers has clearly been overwhelming. In April last year, the energy minister announced that she would approach the National Energy Regulator (NERSA) to make arrangements to offer an additional 6.3 GW in future auctions.