Sun energy rises over Karoo

Cape Town - A new 75MW solar farm near De Aar in the Karoo has been officially opened.

The Solar Capital De Aar Project, the largest thin film solar farm in Africa covers 270ha in the Northern Cape.

The plant is made up of 203 948 thin film solar panels, which has an installation capacity of 85,26 MWp and has been fully operational since 15 August 2014.

The project is part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme and has a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement to feed 75MW in Eskom’s grid.

It supplies the Eskom 132kV grid line and generates around 150 000 MWh per year - enough clean renewable energy to power more than 35 000 households.

An added bonus is a CO2 saving of around three billion tons.

The Italian company Moncada Energy is both a partner in the joint venture and the technology supplier. 

Scatec Solar's project on the farm Kalkbult is another such project. Around 100 km north of De Aar, the 75 MW plant is planned to generate a virtually maintenance-free, non-polluting 135 million kilowatt hours-plus per year, over the course of its projected 20-year lifespan.

The area has been dubbed the “Northern Cape Solar Corridor”, and stretches from De Aar to Upington. Forty-six renewable energy projects are being developed, of which 18 are similar solar photovoltaic plants.