Clean Power

Published on November 22nd, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown


South Africa’s First Utility-Scale Solar Plant Goes Online

November 22nd, 2013 by  

In South Africa, the Kalkbult solar power plant has gone online three months ahead of schedule. It is South Africa’s first utility-scale photovoltaic solar power plant.

It has an electricity generation capacity of 75 MW and consists of 312,000 solar panels. 600 construction jobs were created by the project, 16% of which were female. Construction of the plant began in November 2012, in Petrusville, Northern Cape Province, and was carried out by Scatec Solar, a Norwegian energy company.

Kalkbult solar power plant.
Image Credit: Scatec Solar.

The national utility Eksom is to purchase an estimated 135 million kWh per year from the Kalkbult solar power plant via a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). The electricity is to cleanly power approximately 33,000 homes, and operate on a piece of leased land from a 105 hectare sheep farm.

I doubt the sheep would mind, as solar panels produce no noise or gases to disrupt them.

“The fact that renewable energy can work in harmony with the environment and without disrupting surrounding activities is often overlooked,” said Raymond Carlsen, CEO of Scatec Solar. “After 20 years, we can upgrade the project with the latest technology and continue operations for many years or we can dismantle it and leave the environment in its original natural state.”

kalkbult solar power plant

Kalkbult solar power plant.
Image Credit: Scatec Solar.

This is only 1 of 47 plants awarded PPAs with Eksom under the REIPPP national procurement program, and is a step away from South Africa’s heavy dependence on coal-fired power plants. (South Africa is almost completely dependent on coal power plants at the moment.)

That is an important step towards bettering public health, reduced global warming, and reduced dependence on finite fossil fuels.

Follow me on Twitter @Kompulsa.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

  • Steeple

    Does anyone have any idea as to what the land footprint is for a plant of this size?

    • just_jim

      Since the article states it’s part of a 105 hectare sheep farm, that would put the upper limit at 105 hectare.

    • Matt

      Depends on location and panel efficiency, but say 0.5-2 hectare/MW, I guess South Africa is in the lower range. Hectare = 10,000sq meters = just under 2.5 acres.
      For example here is a 10MW in Germany on 7.5 hectare (~18.5 acres)

      • Ronald Brakels

        Solar panels average over 15% efficiency, so using 15% efficent panels at that lattitude should mean a 75 megawatt solar farm whould cover about 75 hectares. In terms of kilowatt-hours produced per square meter that would make it about as good or better than Australian coal power. Sheep land might go for about $500 a hectare which would put the cost of land for the solar farm at about $33,000. Of course the solar panels could be put on roofs instead, as is done in the world’s smartest country that’s called Australia.

Back to Top ↑