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By the end of 2012, the first two windows of South Africas Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) had been concluded. The big-gest winners were bidders offering projects using solar
photovoltaic technology, with no fewer than 27 projects getting the green light.
The overwhelming majority of these successful bids were awarded in the Northern Cape, together with the only three con-centrated solar power (CSP) projects to be given the go-ahead.
The Development Bank of Southern Africa approved loans of R9.6-billion in the first window alone. Ten of these 14 projects were in the Northern Cape. Engineering News estimates that the REIPPP will lead to an investment in South Africa of about R200-billion to 2016. The intention is that independent power suppliers will be producing 3 725MW by that date.
Solar-photovoltaic (PV) technology is clearly the early front-runner, although some of projects are quite small in terms of the amount of electricity that they will produce. Three of the biggest projects (and the only CSP designs approved in the country) will collectively supply 200MW from sites near Pofadder, Upington and at Bokpoort, between Carnarvon and Britstown. The Bokpoort project will cost about R4.5-billion and represents the first investment into South Africa by Saudi Arabias ACWA Power International.
A 10MW hydroelectric project on the Orange River and a large wind scheme near Victoria West have been approved, but it is in solar energy that the Northern Capes great advantage lies.
Long-term annual direct normal irradiance (DNI) at Upington is 2 816kWh/m2 according to a survey done for Stellenbosch University by Slovakian company GeoModal Solar. CSP Today reports a national average that is among the best in the world. Stellenbosch Universitys Solar Thermal Energy Research Group has six sites monitoring irradiation levels.
At a solar investor conference, held in Upington and attended by 400 delegates from countries such as Spain, India and South Korea, Dipuo Peters, the National Minister of Energy, outlined the competitive advantages of the Northern Cape for solar power, over and above its extremely high irradiation levels: Relative closeness to the national power grid compared to
other areas with comparable sunshine
Water from the Orange River
Access to two airports Good major roads A flat landscapeFeasibility plans are being done on building a massive solar park that will generate an eighth of the countys electric-ity needs 5 000MW near Upington.
Sixteen square kilometres of land has been identified and Eskom is looking for private
Renewable energyInternational solar companies are beating a path to the sunny Northern Cape.
sector insighttwenty solar projects have been approved in the province. the rural Droogfontein
community has a 4% stake in the company that will build 170 000 solar panels on its land.
rand Merchant Bank is the lead arranger for WBho Building Energys r3-billion solar-energy facility at Kathu.
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partners. The park, which will cost more than R150-billion, will generate 1 000MW in its first phase.
The Eskom-led project is intended to be at the centre of a solar hub that will attract private-sector projects because of economies of scale and quicker implementation times if the area is already zoned for solar-power generation.
One of the biggest solar-PV projects is being constructed by the joint venture WBHO Building Energy. The Kathu Solar Energy Facility will gener-ate 75MW and supply the vast mining operations in the area. Rand Merchant Bank is the lead arranger of the financing of this R3-billion project. Standard Bank is behind the other 75MW scheme, the Kalkbult project being designed by Norwegian company Scatec Solar.
Mainstream South Africa is doing several projects, in-cluding Droogfontein solar PV (48.25MW). The company will build 170 000 solar pan-els on the land owned by the Droogfontein Community Property Asssociation, which has taken a 4% stake in the energy company (The New Age). Mainstream SA, a joint venture between Mainstream Renewable Power (Ireland) and Genesis Eco-Energy (SA), has also established a consortium that includes Absa Capital, Thebe Investment Corporation and Siemens Energy Southern Africa, which it hopes will play a role in turning South Africa into a renewable-energy hub.
Local manufacturers of solar equipment are set to increase production radically as a result of the REIPPP. Tenesol South Africa, a subsidiary of the French company with a factory in Cape Town, has won the contract to build both solar farms near Douglas. The company reports that it produced the equivalent of 800 000 photovoltaic modules in 2010.
Wind and other sources
Most of the early allocations for wind projects have been granted to sites in the Eastern and Western Cape, but 790MW must still be allocated. A number of wind-energy projects are in the pipeline at these sites in the Northern Cape: Witberg and in the Roggeveld near Sutherland (G7 Renewable
Energies) Sutherland and Victoria West (Mainstream SA) De Aar (Mulilo Renewable Energy, with China Guodian
Corporation) Namaqualand (De Beers, with Eskom and other companies,
on land no longer used for diamond mines). In 2011, Eskom did a scoping report for a 300MW wind project at Kleinzee
The Northern Cape Economic Development Agency is promoting a project that will turn invasive species into biomass. Cement producer AfriSam is keen to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels at its plant in Ulco, north of Kimberley. Surrounding farm lands would be cleared of useless vegetation and converted into biomass that can generate energy.
One of the sites being looked at by Eskom for a new nuclear plant is on the Namaqualand coast, at a site called Brazil near Kleinzee.
The provinces 313km-long coastline is also suitable for the exploitation of wave energy.
online resourcesCsP today: www.csptoday.comCsP World: www.csp-world.comEnergy resource Centre: www.erc.uct.ac.zaEskom: www.eskom.co.zaGreen Cape: www.green-cape.co.zaNational Department of Energy: www.energy.gov.zasolar thermal Energy research Group: http://blogs.sun.ac.za/sterg/south African Wind Energy Association: www.sawea.org.zasouthern African solar thermal and Electricity Association: www.sastela.orgsustainable Energy Africa: www.sustainable.org.zasustainable Energy society of southern Africa: www.sessa.org.za
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location project lead company mwDe Aar De Aar solar Mainstream renewable Power 48.25
De Aar solar Capital De Aar solar Capital 75
De Aar solar Capital De Aar 3 solar Capital 75
De Aar Mulilo renewable Energy solar Pv
Mulilo renewable Energy 9.65
Douglas Greefspan Pv Power Plant AE-AMD renewable Energy 10
Douglas herbet Pv Power Plant AE-AMD renewable Energy 19.90
Kalkbult Kalkbult Project scatec solar 72.50
Kathu Kathu solar Energy Facility WBho Building Energy 75
Kenhardt Aries solar Bio therm Energy 9.65
Kimberley Droogfontein Mainstream renewable Power 48.25
Linde, between hanover and Colesberg
Linde Project scatec solar 36.80
Pofadder Konkoosies Biotherm Energy 9.65
Postmasburg Lesedi Pv Project Cobra, Gransolar and Kensani 64
Postmasburg Jasper Power Company solar reserve 75
Prieska Mulilo renewable Energy solar Pv
Mulilo renewable Energy 19.93
sishen sishen solar Facility Acciona Energy 74
upington upington solar Pv Enel Green Power 8.9
REIPPP solar photovoltaic (PV) projects approved in the Northern Cape, first two windows.sourCEs: Pv-tECh.orG.ZA AND EnginEEring nEwS
location project lead company mwBokpoort Bokpoort CsP independent Power Project AC WA Power
Pofadder KaXu solar one Abengoa 100
upington Khi solar one Abengoa 50
REIPPP concentrated solar power (CSP) projects approved in the Northern Cape, first two windows: sourCEs: CsP-WorLD.CoM AND EnginEEring nEwS
location project type of energy lead company mwKakamas, orange river
Neusberg hydro-electric Project A
hydroelectric Mulilo renewable Energy
victoria West Nobelsfontein Wind Power Project
Wind Gestamp and shanduka
Other REIPPP hydroelectric projects approved in Northern Cape, first two windows.