S.Africa solar plan draws interest: government

Oct 29, 2010
Animal tracker Blade Witbooi goes hunting, in Andries Vale village in the Kalahar area of Northern Cape in July. South Africa's plan to build what could become the world's biggest solar project on the edge of the Kalahari desert has drawn keen interest from investors

South Africa's plan to build what could become the world's biggest solar project has drawn keen interest from investors even though it is still in its infancy, an official said Friday.

More than 400 investors and insiders from around the world converged on the town of Upington in South Africa's arid Northern Cape province this week for a two-day conference aimed at generating investor interest in plans for a 5,000-Megawatt solar park at the edge of the Kalahari Desert.

The park, whose estimated price tag is 150 billion rands (21.3 billion dollars, 15.4 billion euros), would provide one-eighth of South Africa's current , helping end the country's reliance on coal and the power shortages that pummelled its economy in 2008.

Speaking at the close of the conference, Ompi Aphane, acting deputy director general of the Department of Energy, said investors were "very excited" about the project even though it is still in the planning stage.

"There's a lot that's out there in the market about our urgent need for capacity and I think investors want to take advantage of that, particularly if it's clean energy," he told reporters.

"There are concrete financial proposals that have been received, notwithstanding the fact that some of the transaction issues have not been resolved."

Aphane said officials received a billion-dollar investment proposal from a European development firm and several others from firms around the world.

"It's unbelievable how some of the developers want to take development risk and put their money into the project even without any definition of the process," he said.

South Africa unveiled plans for the park in September after a study by the Clinton Climate Initiative indicated that the area around Upington has some of the best conditions in the world for solar power.

The energy ministry says the government would provide infrastructure for the project, then lease out land to private developers who would finance and build individual projects that would sell power to the national grid.

But officials say the government still needs to conduct a feasibility study and decide exactly how the power purchase deals would work.

The energy ministry has set a production target of 1,000 Megawatts by 2012 and 5,000 Megawatts by 2020.

If it reaches full capacity, the park would be five times bigger than the Blythe solar power plant, which won approval Monday to begin construction in southern California and is currently on track to become the world's largest .

Explore further: Audi to develop Tesla Model S all-electric rival

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Taiwan unveils Asia's biggest solar plant: govt

Dec 23, 2009

Taiwan has unveiled what it calls Asia's biggest solar power plant as the island, which imports almost all its energy, seeks to tap into clean renewable resources, the government said Wednesday.

Egypt's first solar plant to open by year's end

Jun 14, 2010

Egypt will open its first solar energy plant by the end of this year, electricity and energy minister Hassan Yunis said in a report published on Monday on the ministry's website.

Taiwan plans massive growth in solar energy

Dec 04, 2009

Taiwan plans to boost its use of solar panels by a factor of 200 over the next decade and a half in an effort to increase clean energy, a ranking official said Friday.

Italy to host Europe's biggest solar plant: company

Mar 11, 2010

Europe's most powerful solar power plant is set to start operations in Italy later this year, the US company building the installation on an area as large as 120 football pitches said on Thursday.

Recommended for you

Audi to develop Tesla Model S all-electric rival

9 hours ago

The Tesla Model S has a rival. Audi is to develop all-electric family car. This is to be a family car that will offer an all-electric range of 280 miles (450 kilometers), according to Auto Express, which ...

A green data center with an autonomous power supply

15 hours ago

A new data center in the United States is generating electricity for its servers entirely from renewable sources, converting biogas from a sewage treatment plant into electricity and water. Siemens implemented ...

Can we create an energy efficient Internet?

15 hours ago

With the number of Internet connected devices rapidly increasing, researchers from Melbourne are starting a new research program to reduce energy consumption of such devices.

Shedding light on solar power

Nov 27, 2014

Everyone wants to save energy, but not everyone knows where to start. Grid Resources, a startup based out of the Centre for Urban Energy's iCUE incubator, is developing a new website that seeks to help homeowners ...

Energy transition project moves into its second phase

Nov 27, 2014

Siemens is studying new concepts for optimizing the cost-effectiveness and technical performance of energy systems with distributed and fluctuating electricity production. The associated IRENE research project ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.