A recent study conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) revealed that renewable energy including wind and solar benefited South Africa by as much as R5.3 billion in 2014.
In recent months two major solar power plants went live, while two even larger concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) plants were announced.
SolarReserve announced on 11 November 2014 that the 96 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) Jasper solar power project was completed and fully operational.
The Sishen Solar Energy Facility came online in December 2014, with an estimated 216GWh per year of electricity generation.
In January the Department of Energy announced the construction of two new CSP plants, which will be built in the Northern Cape.
The Kathu Solar Park and Redstone Solar Thermal Power project, both of which will have 100MW capacity, are part of the government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
These solar power plants complement other large solar installations, including the Kalkbult Solar Park, Lesedi Solar Park, and Letsatsi Solar Park.
MyBroadband looked at some of South Africa’s existing and planned solar power plants.
Kalkbult solar power station – 75MW
The 75 megawatt Kalkbult solar photovolataic power station started to provide the grid with electricity in November 2013.
The power station is located near Petrusville in the Northern Cape, and is producing 150,000MWh per annum. This is enough to power 35,000 homes.
Scatec Solar was awarded the Kalkbult project in December 2011, and it was completed in September 2013. It was connected to the grid three months earlier than planned.
Letsatsi Solar Park – 75MW
The Letsatsi Solar Power Project near Bloemfontein was completed in May 2014 and is fully operational.
The project is playing its part in helping South Africa meet its renewable energy targets, in addition to stimulating long-term economic development and creating new jobs.
Jasper solar power project – 96MW
In November 2014 SolarReserve announced that the 96 megawatt photovoltaic Jasper solar power project was fully operational.
Jasper is located in South Africa’s Northern Cape in a solar park that also includes the 75MW Lesedi solar power project.
With over 325,000 PV modules, the Jasper project is delivering 180,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually for South African residents.
Kathu Solar PV facility – 75MW
The 75MW Kathu Solar PV facility, based in the Northern Cape, commenced commercial operations in November 2014.
The project is expected to deliver 179GWh of clean energy into the grid annually, equivalent to the electricity requirements of 68,000 low-income households.
Sishen Solar Energy Facility – 94MW
The Sishen Solar Energy Facility came online in December 2014, with an estimated electricity generation of 216GWh per year.
The solar plant has 319,600 photovoltaic modules, with a peak capacity of 94.3 megawatts (MWp) – 74 nominal MW.
Redstone CSP plant – 100MW (announced)
The planned 100MW Redstone concentrated solar thermal power plant, which forms part of the South African REIPPPP, will be the biggest plant of its kind in South Africa.
The first of its kind on the continent, the Redstone Solar Thermal Power Project features SolarReserve’s molten salt energy storage technology in a tower configuration with the capability to support South Africa’s demand for energy when it’s needed most – day and night.
The 100MW project with 12 hours of full-load energy storage will be able to deliver electricity to more than 200,000 South African homes during peak demand periods, even well after the sun has set.
The biggest benefit of the CSP plant is that it produces electricity without harmful emissions or hazardous materials, and without any fuel cost for the 30+ year life of the project.
The Redstone Solar Thermal Power project is scheduled to commence operations in early 2018.
The Kathu Solar Park project is a 100MW CSP project with parabolic trough technology.
The solar park project will be equipped with a molten salt storage system that allows 4.5 hours of thermal energy storage. It is situated in the Northern Cape Province, 600km south-west of Pretoria.