Oct 01, 2010
Upington solar park could deliver first power by the end of 2012Back
Johannesburg|CCI|Central Energy Fund|Energy|Eskom|Industrial|Power|PROJECT|Projects|Renewable-Energy|System|Water|South Africa|Baseload Solar Electricity|Electricity Flowing|Renewable-energy Feed-in Tariffs|Solar Energy Projects|Solar Thermal Solutions|Technology Mix|Technology Providers|Technology-neutral Solar Zone|Transmission Infrastructure|Transport|Northern Cape|Orange River|Dipuo Peters|Ira Magaziner|Jonathan De Vries|Ompi Aphane
© Reuse this
Invitations were sent out in late September to international technology providers, as well as to local and international solar developers, for an investor conference, scheduled for Upington on October 28 and 29. And Department of Energy deputy director- general Ompi Aphane believes that the first deals could be concluded in the first or second quarter of next year.
He has revealed that the solar park, which could involve an investment of some R150-billion over a ten-year horizon, has been factored into the yet-to-be-published integrated resource plan, or IRP2010, which will provide a framework for South Africa’s power generation mix for the coming 20 to 25 years.
But Aphane also stresses that they will not compete with solar energy projects seeking to access South Africa’s renewable-energy feed-in tariffs, or Refits, as it would be unaffordable to extend Refits to solar park investors, owing to the scale of the projects envisaged.
Proposed is a technology-neutral solar zone, operated by a so-called ‘Solar Park Authority’, or SPA, where up to 5 000 MW of peaking and baseload solar electricity will be phased in over a ten-year horizon.
It is estimated that government would need to invest between R70-million and R105-million to set up the basic transport, water and transmission infrastructure to stimulate private investment of around R150-billion in generating assets.
The investor conference itself will showcase the opportunities and help inform a full feasibility study that is being pursued, following the South African government’s recent endorsement of the prefeasibility study conducted by the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI).
In fact, CCI chairperson Ira Magaziner argues that the Northern Cape’s world- beating solar irradiation levels of greater than 8 kWh/m2 for much of the year, together with the fact that government will facilitate access to land, water and the power grid, could ensure the delivery of peaking and baseload capacity that would be competitive with coal.
The technology mix will hinge on factors such as grid stability and the country’s requirement for baseload, as opposed to peaking power, with the solar thermal solutions providing the former and photovoltaics the latter.
The first phase will target the production of 1 000 MW, built in increments from a range of solutions.
“We want to use the first phase to assess the performance of the various solar tech- nologies at the scale we are proposing,” De Vries explains, adding that the projects will be selected through a competitive bidding process.
Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, who unveiled the concept at a function in Johannesburg, indicated that the SPA could either be established as a unit within the State-owned Central Energy Fund, or set up as a provincial or local government agency.
The organisation will act as an investment facilitator, in a role akin to that of a development authority within South Africa’s industrial development zones.
In other words, it will be responsible for the nongenerating infrastructure within the 9 000-ha property, such as roads, water and transmission capacity. The initial site, which is reportedly adjacent to the one where Eskom plans to build a 100-MW power-tower project, will draw water from the Orange river, which flows nearby. It is also close to existing transmission infrastructure and within a corridor that is earmarked for additional transmission investment by Eskom.
The full park could be built in a corridor stretching from Upington to De Aar and involve up to 19 000 ha of land. The sites close to the Orange river will not require additional water infrastructure, but water will have to be piped to the other sites.
The SPA could also facilitate access to government incentives, as well as aid investors, to gain regulatory and environmental approvals for their projects.
But the solar park is also affected by the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the buying entity for power generated by private producers, as well as a lack of clarity on the nature of the power purchase agreements (PPAs). It is not clear, for instance, whether the PPAs will be backed by a government guarantee.
“We hope that, through this process, we will be able to deal with these uncertainties in a way that not only unblocks investment in the park, but also supports other renewable-energy developers, as well as independent power producers, more gene- rally,” De Vries says.
It is likely that Eskom will be the initial purchasing agent, with a growing acceptance that the creation of an independent system and market operator, or ISMO, could still take years.
But Aphane insists that the IRP2010 will be promulgated before the end of the year, despite the fact that it has yet to be released for public comment. He also indicates that a Ministerial determination on new generation capacity is likely before year-end.
De Vries tells Engineering News that site preparation could begin in 2011 and that, should the legislative and regulatory hurdles be cleared, the first power plants could be producing by the second half of 2012.
A number of working groups have been established around the project, including one that will interrogate the potential job creation and industrial development spin-offs.
Peters stressed that government was keen to facilitate the development of industrial capacity to supply into both the solar park and future domestic solar programmes, as well as into the export market.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
Other News This Week News
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2014: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2014 report provides an overview of the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon steel and stainless...
Projects in Progress 2014 - First Edition (PDF Report)
This publication contains insight into progress at the delayed Medupi and Kusile coal-fired projects, in Mpumalanga and Limpopo respectively, as well as at the Ingula pumped-storage scheme, which is under construction on the border between the Free State and...
Automotive 2014: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
The report provides insight into the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local construction demand, geographic diversification, competition within the sector, corporate activity, skills, safety, environmental considerations and the challenges...
Construction 2014: A review of South Africa's construction sector (PDF Report)
Construction data released during 2013 hints at a halt to the decline in the industry during the last few years, with some commentators averring that the industry could be poised for recovery. However, others have urged caution, noting that the prospects for a...
Electricity 2014: A Review of South Africa's Electricity Sector (PDF Report)
This report provides an overview of the state of electricity generation and transmission in South Africa and examines electricity planning, investment in generation capacity, electricity tariffs, the role of independent power producers and demand-focused initiatives,...
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
This Week's Magazine
The Electronic Systems Laboratory (ESL) of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University is strongly reaffirming its position as one of South Africa’s leading centres for satellite technology and expertise. It is currently...
The world’s lowest-cost diesel-electric locomotive is not made in China, but in Pretoria, at RRL Grindrod Locomotives’ newly upgraded 30 000 m2 plant. The company’s locomotive pricing is “more competitive than any other original-equipment manufacturer (OEM)...
The South African Defence Review 2012, released to the public at the end of last month (despite the year given in its title) recommends the creation of the post of Chief Defence Scientist. This official would be responsible for the management of defence technology...
AltX-listed engineering technology company Ansys has been awarded an R188-million contract by Transnet to supply integrated dashboard display systems to the freight rail utility’s locomotives. Black-owned and controlled Ansys developed the bespoke integrated system...
South Africa’s sole nuclear power station Koeberg, which is located in the Western Cape, breached a major operations milestone on April 4, which marked the thirtieth anniversary of Unit 1 having been connected to the grid. Eskom, which operates the two-unit plant,...