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

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.

 
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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: Kompulsa.com.

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