|Clinton Climate Initiative Focusses on the South African Sun|
The South African government and the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) have signed an Memorandum Of Understanding to develop a plan, before year end, to establishment a Solar Park in the Northern Cape.
If the black areas above were covered with PV panels, it would provide all the world’s energy needs.
The quality of solar radiation in South Africa is well defined and proves, especially in the Northern Cape, to be equal to the most suitable for energy generation in the world. With a feed in tariff for concentrated solar power already in place and photovoltaic panel (PV) based tariff and modified CSP tariffs proposed by NERSA the time is ripe to look at Solar Power in South Africa.
Why in South Africa?
The image heading this post shows clearly that areas of the Northern Cape have amongst the highest level of solar radiation in the world. Obviously the higher the average irradiation level the smaller the solar cell area required to produce a given quantity of electricity.
But it is not simply the sun power available, otherwise the largest solar plant in the world would not currently be under construction in Germany, where the average solar irradiation as indicated on the image is roughly 140 W/m2 compared to 320 W/m2 in the Northern Cape which implies it needs twice as many PV panels.
Although PV panel and land costs are inversely proportional to the solar radiation, the transmission of electricity from remote areas to the point of consumption is a large cost that must be included. The transport of PV panels to remote areas, which tend to be where the highest solar radiation also has an impact on the overall cost.
The Northern Cape as well as having high levels of solar radiation, has large areas of cheap land, is reasonably close to South Africa’s electricity grid and to South Africa’s industrial infrastructure.
A South African Solar Park
A solar park would serve as a concentrated zone of solar development. It would allow a number of independent power producers to install their projects within an optimised environment. Shared licensing, environment impact studies, interconnections and support facilities would allow economies on scale of up to 30% and 40% reducing the cost of the energy.
The CCI will undertake a feasibility study to identify one or more sites for a proposed solar park considering solar radiation indices, land availability, transmission access and cost, water, job creation, local content. The feasibility study would be the base on which potential funders and power providers would be approached. Construction of the park could start as early as the end of 2010 with the first power being produced in 2012.
The park would be expected to produce up to 5,000 MW of electricity which would represent a little over 10 % of the current electricity capacity of Eskom (the state owned electricity generator) and something like 15 % of South Africa’s 10 terawatt hour renewable energy goal for 2013.
Source: GO Media - Written by Dave Harcourt - Map from http://www.ez2c.de/ml/solar_land_area/ via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons license.