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

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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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Zachary Shahan

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