7 African Countries to Get Utility-Scale Solar?

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California-based eSolar has just announced that it is expanding into southern Africa now. It has partnered with Johannesburg-based Clean Energy Solutions (CES) to create “eSolarSA” which will sell its concentrating solar power technology throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Sub-Saharan region eSolar is entering contains seven countries, including South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. The international solar company is already on three continents and has proven itself commercially and CEO Bill Gross states: “eSolar is ready to expand its global footprint and further its goal of making solar energy competitive with fossil fuels…. Africa boasts one of the highest solar resources on the planet, and eSolar’s modular, scalable technology is well-positioned to establish the continent as a leader in the development of low-cost, no-carbon energy solutions.”

South Africa seems primed for solar power. It has set the goal of having 10,000 GWh of electricity come from renewable energy resources by 2013.

As we all know, the natural solar resources in southern Africa are tremendous. Perhaps this move by eSolar will bring the technology needed to make this region a major solar node in the world. Stuart Fredman, who will lead eSolarSA’s efforts, believes in this. As he says: “Sub-Saharan Africa’s tremendous solar resource has gone relatively untapped, but now, with eSolar’s technology, we can establish Southern Africa as a new hotspot for solar development.”

Pasadena-based eSolar is a leader in the US with the only “commercially operating solar power tower plant in North America” — the recently developed Sierra SunTower power plant in Southern California — and a major partnership with NRG Energy, Inc. to create nearly 500 MW of solar electricity. It also recently expanded into India by partnering with ACME Group to develop 1,000 MW of solar power plants within the next 10 years.

We will see how this new movement into southern Africa affects solar energy usage and the solar energy market there and worldwide.

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Zachary Shahan

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