Northern Cape: solar energy powerhouse

July 21, 2016  — 

The Northern Cape’s climate conditions make the province an ideal location for solar energy projects.

In summer, temperatures here reach 50°C making the province a top destination worldwide for solar power plants, so it's little wonder that the province is home to Africa's largest solar plant farm.

Current and upcoming infrastructure developments across the province bring not only the structures that will generate clean energy for the region and the rest of South Africa, but also social and economic benefits for residents.

Investments into solar energy projects in the Northern Cape run into billions of rands every year and one of the most recent projects revealed in March this year, was the R5-billion Bokpoort concentrated solar plant. This plant, located in Groblershoop, reportedly has one of the highest thermal energy storages in the world.

When the solar plant was commissioned, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies was quoted saying investment into the project boosted the government’s confidence in its long-term infrastructure roll-out plans. 

The Bokpoort concentrated solar plant.

The Bokpoort concentrated solar plant.  (Image: Wind Energy and Electricity Vehicle Review )

“This project marks a key milestone in South Africa’s electricity supply security and CO2 reduction. With its record 9.3 hours thermal energy storage capacity, the Bokpoortproject will provide electricity to approximately 21 000 households during the day as well as night time and save approximately 230 000 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions during every year of operation,” Davies was quoted saying.

It’s believed that the solar plant will create approximately 1 300 temporary jobs during the construction phase and people from local the community will occupy about 400 of these posts.

Additional solar plant projects in the pipeline in the Northern Cape are the Redstone solar thermal power plant and the Xina Solar One, among others. The construction of the Redstone R14.9-billion plant, in Postmasburg, is expected to start in September. It’s anticipated the plant will generate 100MW of energy – enough to power 200 000 houses.

The Xina Solar One is currently under construction in Pofadder. It will supply clean energy to approximately 45 000 households and create about 600 jobs during the construction phase and an 35 permanent posts during plant operation. 

The De Aar solar farm is Africa’s largest solar plant. Construction started in December 2012 and operations commenced in 2014. Reportedly, the solar farm provides power to about 75 000 South African homes every year. 

Visit the Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme website for more information on these and other renewable energy projects.  

For your next visit to the Northern Cape, book your accommodation here and enjoy the province of extremes.