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Published on October 26th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan


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

October 26th, 2010 by  

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

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on

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  • 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.

    • 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,
        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.×691.gif

        • 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.

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