The South African Energy Department is seeking well over 3,700 MW of renewable energy project bids through tits Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme. Recently, an American solar company, SolarReserve LLC, obtained $586 million in financing for the construction of two 75 MW solar farms in South Africa.
The country has a very large solar power upside. “Of all renewable-energy sources, solar energy is likely to have the biggest potential in South Africa, owing to the country having one of the highest and the most stable solar radiations in the world. The variable is around 3%, which means that, on a good day, solar radiation in South Africa is 100%, and 97% on bad days. These conditions are extraordinary,” explained Subsolar Energy employee Dick Berlijn. There is also much unused land in the northern part of the country.
A target of 42% of new electricity from renewables by 2030 has been set. Wind, solar, biomass, and biogas are at the top of the list for new projects. Of course, feed-in tariffs are part of the strategy for expanding renewables. There is significant potential for wind power as well, though north Africa has more. Geothermal in South Africa has not been developed much yet, but there is some interest. The mining industry already digs below the 4,000 foot level where deep pockets of hot water are located. Additionally, there are about 87 warm natural springs which may have some geothermal potential for communities located in rural areas.
South Africa’s main source of energy currently is from burning coal. But, in 2006, it was estimated about 200,000 households there were employing photovoltaics, and that number is surely growing.
Image Credit: Jean-claude, Wiki Commons
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