Solar farms for Northern Cape

Job creation in De Aar

Solar farming is about to become big business in the Northern Cape.
solar energy

Cape-based renewable energy company Solar Capital, which has signed agreements with the government and Eskom opening the way for the development of a 75MW solar photovoltaic (PV) project in the Northern Cape, reports that it is already working on a second project and aims to bid for additional solar PV capacity when the next round closes in May next year.

The initial project, which will be developed in De Aar, was selected along with 27 other wind and solar projects, following the first bidding round under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP).

Solar Capital's chief executive officer, Paschal Phelan says the R13-billion De Aar solar farm will incorporate one million, thin-film panels to be supplied by Moncada Energy, of Italy.

A second R10-billion Solar Capital project progressed to the preferred-bidder stage earlier this year following the second REIPPP bid window. It is earmarked for development on a site that is adjacent to the first De Aar project.

Under the current REIPPP schedule, the second bid-window projects should reach financial close during the first quarter of 2013.

Phelan, who relocated to South Africa from Ireland more than a decade ago when he invested in the Cape Royale Luxury Hotel & Spa, in Cape Town, says Solar Capital is currently eyeing up to 25 solar-farm projects.These could be developed on 50 000ha of land, which has been acquired in the Northern Cape and the Western Cape.

Phelan has also purchased a factory in De Aar, as well as a 50-bedroom hotel, which will be rebranded the De Aar Royale Hotel once refurbished.

The factory will be used to produce the steel structures needed to hold the panels.

“The panels will convert solar rays directly into electricity that will then be fed into the national grid. The panels have no moving parts, no emissions and are easy and quick to install,” Phelan said.

The initial project will employ upwards of 250 people in De Aar and Cape Town.

Credit: Engineering News

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