Europeans may be smugly energy efficient with their insulated houses and solar panels on the roof, but here in South Africa nothing is done by halves. Yesterday a brand new 50MW power plant, that sprawls a 100 hectare site in the Northern Cape and boasts 165 000 photovoltaic panels was turned on, which should produce enough electricity for 19 000 homes in the area.
It’s the second large scale solar plant in the country to come online, after Kalkbult was switched on last September, also in the Northern Cape. The new generator, which is situated in the Sol Plaatjie municipality and called Droogfontein, is twice the size of Kalkbult, however. It’s estimated by the operator that it will produce around 85 458MWh per year.
Through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPP), the Department of Energy wants to encourage private producers to generate more than 3 725MW using renewables to the national grid by 2030. Given that Eskom has just another warning that load shedding may be on its way, that target can’t come soon enough.
Now that the country has two large installations under its belt, however, they can be used to train staff for future. Droogfontein employed more than 500 people during its construction, and will be used to provide technical expertise for the next wave of plants.[Via – Allafrica, Image – Droogfontein Power]