The largest solar plant in Africa, Middle East and the Southern hemisphere was inaugurated here earlier this year, a 175-megawatt facility that spreads over almost 500 hectares.
The facility is the brainchild of Solar Capital, led by hotel magnate turned solar evangelist Paschal Phelan, which ploughed $400 million into the venture.
The plant supplies power to the National Grid, but when the heat is fiercest it produces far more than the Grid can use, and the excess power goes to waste.
“It’s like you have a Ferrari and you run a small car,” says Massimiliano Salaorno, plant manager of Solar Capital De Aar.
Solar and wind power account for just 2% of South Africa’s energy needs, according to research from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Renewable sources will not solve South Africa’s energy shortage alone. Two new coal plants are imminent, and there are plans to build nuclear energy capacity.
Solar facilities such De Aar will also require greater resources to flourish. Solar Capital has been forced to import solar panels and Phelan is determined to build domestic capacity.
The plant is already producing 15% profits per year, with vastly more potential for growth. As South Africa’s green energy revolution accelerates, De Aar is providing the engine.
Source : CNN
Photo by kevin dooley