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Published on October 26th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan

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World’s Largest Solar Park to be in South Africa?

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October 26th, 2010 by Zachary Shahan
 

Sunny South Africa wouldn’t be a bad place to put a big solar park, and the government there knows it.

The South African government is interested in building a 5-gigawatt solar park on land in its Northern Cape and has hired Texas-based Fluor Corporation to make a plan for how to do so.

CalFinder Solar reports that the solar park could “serve as a field test for emerging technologies in PV energy, concentrating photovoltaic PV and concentrating solar power, or CSP.”

The project is following up on a pre-feasibility study conducted by the Clinton Climate Initiative. Fluor’s task is to develop a conceptual master plan to be unveiled at the South African Solar Park Investors Conference (Oct. 28 and 29), which will be held in the Northern Cape Province.

“Upon completion of the conceptual study, a more detailed design plan will be developed,” Reuters reports. “The South Africa Department of Energy intends to establish a Solar Park Authority as a unit within the state-owned Central Energy Fund to facilitate the advancement of the project.”

South Africa’s Department of Energy predicts that the total costs for this massive solar park project could reach $22 billion (150 billion rand).

Of course, this project would come after the Mojave Desert solar project in the United States, which is expected to claim the title of world’s largest solar project until then.

South Africa’s Solar Boon

South Africa gets an astounding 1,800 to 2,200 kilowatt hours per square meter (kWh/sq m) of insolation (i.e. amount of “solar radiation energy received on a given surface area in a given time”). The best possible in sunny California, for comparison, is 700 kWh/sq m.

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Photo Credit: afloresm via flickr (CC license)

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • Pingback: Top Ten Highlights of Cleantech in South Africa | CleanTechies Blog - CleanTechies.com

  • http://www.havenbrow.co.uk Martin Steele

    Anything that raises the profile of green energy is good.

  • Emil

    It’s good that you reference a quote for the South African insolation, but what about the source for California? 700 kWh/sq m (per year) sounds more like Germany to me. California should have a range of 1500-2200 kwh/sq m/year.

    • http://www.zacharyshahan.com Zachary Shahan

      @Emil: from the linked article by a California solar company

      • Bill Woods

        The article does say that, but the report *it* links to in turn,
        http://www.energy.ca.gov/2005publications/CEC-500-2005-072/CEC-500-2005-072-D.PDF
        doesn’t contain “700″. Instead, it says,
        “As shown in Figure 1, the southwestern
        states of Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico tend to have very high insolation values
        from between 7 to 7.5 kilowatt-hours per square meters per day (kwhrs/m2-day).
        However, much of California’s Central Valley and the southern part of the state also
        have insolation values ranging from 5 to 7.5 kwhrs/m2-day.”

        Sanity check: the sun isn’t 3 times brighter in South Africa than in California. See, e.g.
        http://www.oynot.com/images/world_insolation_map_04-1250×691.gif

        • http://www.zacharyshahan.com Zachary Shahan

          nice research, Bill. thank you

  • Bill Woods

    “South Africa gets an astounding 1,800 to 2,200 kilowatt hours per square meter (kWh/sq m) of insolation … The best possible in sunny California, for comparison, is 700 kWh/sq m.”

    Say what? Large tracts of California desert average more than 7 kW.h/m^2 per day = 2500 kW.h/m^2 per year.
    http://www.nrel.gov/csp/images/3pct_csp_ca.jpg

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