Amazon Web Services has completed its first operational solar project in South Africa.
Located in the Northern Cape, the 10 megawatt (MW) solar project will supply renewable energy to AWS data centres and contribute to South Africa’s 2030 renewable energy goals, the group said in a statement on Thursday (4 November).
The solar project is expected to generate up to 28,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy per year, which is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of over 8,000 average South African homes, it said.
The project is a single-axis tracking plant consisting of over 24,000 bifacial solar modules covering an area of 20 hectares in the Northern Cape, where solar is a valuable energy resource, the group said.
The solar photovoltaic panels track the sun throughout the day absorbing irradiance from the sky and reflected light from the ground.
The project design will result in more than an estimated 25,000 tons of carbon emissions avoided annually, the equivalent of removing 5,400 cars from the road for a year, AWS said.
“Amazon is committed to working with governments and utility suppliers around the world to help bring more new renewable energy projects online, and we’re honoured to be able to work with the Department of Minerals and Energy, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), and Eskom to help deliver a new model for renewable energy generation in South Africa,” said Nat Sahlstrom, director of AWS Energy.
“This project brings Amazon closer to achieving net-zero carbon by 2040 and powering our operations with 100% renewable energy, a commitment we’re on path to achieve five years early by 2025.”
During construction, the project created 167 jobs, 63% from the local surrounding area. It will sustain permanent jobs for its lifetime in electrical maintenance, operation, and security.
Unused materials from construction, including pallets and electrical cable drums, were donated to local furniture businesses and special skills schools to support small, medium, and micro-enterprises.
“It’s important that while we’re building renewable energy capacity in South Africa that we’re also developing South African companies and skills,” says Dom Wills, chief executive of SOLA Group, the South African company responsible for developing and operating the energy plant.