The world’s most attractive emerging solar market just crossed 500 MW in installed capacity, entering the list of top 10 countries in terms of solar power capacity. The milestone was reached after four utility-scale solar power projects were commissioned in South Africa in May this year.
According to online solar power projects tracker WikiSolar, these four projects were part of the first renewable energy project auctions under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) Programme that was kicked off in 2011. Two solar photovoltaic (PV) projects with power generation capacity of about 65 MW each were commissioned in May. Both the projects were developed by SolarReserve and Intikon Energy.
In early June two smaller projects, also part of the first round of auction, were commissioned. These were the Herbert (10 MW) and Greefspan (20 MW) solar power power projects, both developed by California-based Sunpower Corporation.
According to WikiSolar, with the commissioning of these projects, South Africa now ranks 10th in the list of countries with the largest installed capacity of utility-scale solar power projects. South Africa is expected to move towards the top 5 in that list pretty soon with several solar power projects under construction.
During the first auction of renewable energy projects, a total of 28 projects were allocated. Seven of these projects were based on wind energy technology, 19 on solar PV technology and two on concentrated solar power technology. The solar PV projects allocated in the first round have a cumulative capacity of about 630 MW while the two CSP projects have a combined generation capacity of 150 MW.
During the second auction, a total of 19 projects were allocated. Ten of these were based on solar PV technology, one each on CSP and wind energy technology and seven on hydro power technology. The solar PV projects have a cumulative capacity of about 460 MW while the CSP project has a capacity of 50 MW.
Preferred bidders of the third round of auction were announced in October 2013. Six bidders were allocated a total of 450 MW of solar PV capacity while two bidders were allocated a total of 200 MW capacity.
Thus, about 1,780 MW utility-scale solar power capacity is still in pipeline. Installation of this capacity could potentially push South Africa into the top five countries with utility-scale installed solar power capacity in the near future.
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