BIG SUN IN SO AFRICA
South Africa: 5GW solar park to kick off CSP deployment
Annabel Eaton, 15 October 2010(CSP Today)
"An ambitious undertaking in South Africa, industrial gateway to the African continent, is the proposed creation of a R150 billion solar park, which on completion, would have the capacity to produce approximately 5 000 MW of renewable energy…[I]f implemented, [it] will be carried out in phases, with the initial phase having a capacity of 1 000 MW. The solar park would incorporate Eskom’s 100 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, which has received part funding from the World Bank.
"…South Africa, a country fraught by rolling blackouts, has to increasingly turn towards alternative energy sources to help counteract its dire energy shortage and decrease its dependence on coal-fired power stations. The latter cannot be relied upon given the unreliability of South Africa’s future coal reserves…Furthermore carbon emissions need to be reduced in order to adhere to international green principles and combat global warming."
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"Apart from lowering carbon emissions, a particular advantage of solar power is that it can be deployed relatively quickly and incrementally. Other advantages it offers are industrial development opportunities, job-creation and portfolio risk management…A prefeasibility study…carried out by the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) in conjunction with South Africa’s Department of Energy…indicated that Upington in the Northern Cape, the proposed location for the solar park, is ideal…
"…[V]arious proven solar technologies, such as concentrated photovoltaic solutions, and CSP technologies including power tower and trough technologies, are [reportedly] being examined…According to Ministry of Energy special advisor, Jonathan de Vries, photovoltaic, which turns sun directly into electricity, would be used for peak power, CSP which can store heat would be used for base-load power…[T]he first phase for the production of 1 000 MW would be built in increments from a range of solutions, and this initial phase would be used to assess the performance of the various solar technologies…"
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"…Drivers for CSP in the Northern Cape…shows that apart from attracting international manufacturers to South Africa, CSP manufacturing would create opportunities for domestic production, with resultant skills development and job creation. CSP manufacturing could become a new, local industry…Depending on investor response, site preparation for the Upington solar plant could start as early as 2011, and the first power plants could start producing by the second half of 2012.
"This proposed initiative is but one element of the South African government’s goal to diversify its energy sources, to help overcome the country’s power supply crisis. In early October the Department of Energy released proposals, which form part of its draft integrated electricity resource plan, to reduce coal dependency by almost half by 2030…[The] draft plan suggests that coal contribute 48% to the energy mix by 2030, followed by renewable energy (16%), then nuclear (14%), and finally a range of smaller alternative energy options…[with] 52 248 MW of new capacity by 2030…"