A number of solar technologies will be used together including photovoltaic, concentrated photovoltaic plants and concentrating solar power technologies such as power towers, in order to generate electricity.
The abundance of sunlight in Northern Cape would in future not only benefit farmers, holiday resorts and ice cold liquor merchants, but will also contribute significantly in relieving the stress on the national electricity grid.
Talks surrounding plans for one of the largest solar parks in the world to be constructed in the province, have been held since 2009 and Premier Hazel Jenkins have confirmed that construction of the park would begin shortly.
“It is incumbent on the province to play a leading role in the initiatives regarding the proposed solar park corridor and its associated processes,” said Jenkins during Friday’s state of the province address.
“The Solar Park which will be based in Upington, will to a large extent change the economic landscape of the province from over-reliance on agriculture and mining, to other sectors such as manufacturing and the supply of solar related parts and components.” The park will cost a total of about $20bn (R147bn) to set up.
Various partners will contribut in bringing it to fruition. The Texas-based Fluor Corporation was set to become the leading stakeholder in the plant.
Fluor has a track record in renewable energy projects and is currently involved in the construction of the world’s largest offshore wind farm, off the coast of the UK. According to a statement on the department of energy’s website, the park would be constructed and start operating in four stages.
In the first stage, enough infrastructure will be erected to provide 1500 MW by 2012, with Eskom set to provide the infrastructure to transmit the energy from the site. According to a presentation from Eskom on the department’s website, plans are already on track for the roll-out of 400 kilovolt (KV) transmission infrastructure in the area.
During phase two, production will be stepped up to 170 MW and transformers will be erected near Kronos by 2014. Phase three will see the park’s output escalated to 900MW and an additional two transformers, as well as a solar park substation being erected. A further two 400KV lines will also be rolled out by 2016.
The following year will see the plant’s production reach 1500 MW and the addition of two more transformers, as well as two more 400KV lines from Eskom.
South Africa is ideal for the harnessing of solar power, as it receives some of the highest levels of solar radiation in the world. Upington receives some of the highest levels in the country.
South Africa as a whole receives an average of four-and-a-half to six-and-a-half kilowatts an hour (kWh), of solar radiation per day. Upington receives about 8.17 kWh per square metre daily.
A number of solar technologies will be used together including photovoltaic, concentrated photovoltaic plants and concentrating solar power technologies such as power towers, in order to generate electricity at the plant. This will create a plant where four square kilometres of space could generate about 100 MW of electricity.
The Northern Cape provincial government referred all enquiries to the national department of energy, as the project was being driven by former provincial premier Dipuo Peters, who is currently the minister of energy. The department could not comment yesterday.
But last year Fluor, which conducted feasibility studies along with the William J Clinton Foundation, said the South African department of energy intended to establish a Solar Park authority as a unit within the state-owned Central Energy Fund, to facilitate the advancement of the project. The five gigawatt solar park is one of the largest proposed solar energy parks in the world.