Renewable-energy project developer Solar Capital has inaugurated the second phase of its De Aar solar farm project, with De Aar 3 adding 90 MW of capacity to the overall project.
This was in addition to the first phase of the project, the 85 MW De Aar 1 solar farm, which came on line in August 2014.
An investment of R5-billion was made into the first two phases of the De Aar project, with 25% of the investment equity financed by local companies and the Public Investment Corporation. The remaining 75% had been financed through loans from Standard Bank South Africa and Deutsche Bank in London, in the UK.
Solar Capital chairperson Paschal Phelan noted that Solar Capital had installed over 500 000 solar panels at the project.
At its peak, 2 000 people were employed, with 90% from the local community. There were currently about 220 people working on site, with a further 120 people to be employed to maintain the solar farm once the final two phases of the project were complete.
Phelan noted that the company planned to develop a total of 300 MW of capacity in De Aar.
The next phase, the 86 MW De Aar 2, formed part of the extended Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme 4.75 bid.
Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson on Thursday stated that the De Aar solar project was the largest solar farm in Africa, the Middle East and the southern hemisphere.
She congratulated Phelan on delivering the project, which she said could be the “blueprint” for further solar projects in South Africa and that the project showcased the Northern Cape’s potential to be the solar capital of the world.