Yes, Europe and the US are proud of their huge solar power plants, but this does not mean they can claim all the glory. Just last month, South Africa officially announced that the biggest solar power plant on the continent has begun operation.
The solar power plant, which is called Jasper, is located in Kimberley, South Africa and has capacity of 96MW, which should provide enough electricity to power around 80,000 homes. Although this number is quite a bit lower than the anticipated 300MW that will come from Europe’s largest, currently under construction, solar plant, it is still very significant.
Jasper is a result of a joint collaboration between SolarReserve, the Kensani Group and Intikon Energy, and it is developed with funds from various international investors, including Google. Throughout the construction period between October 2013 and October 2014, the project provided hundreds of jobs to locals within the construction industry, adding to more that a million working hours. In addition to that, almost half of the money for the project was spent within the local area, which gave a great boost to the local economy.
All that is to show that the project goes way beyond a solar power plant providing clean energy. For the coming two decades, the project has secured additional ZAR 2 billion for operation and maintenance. This should provide the grounds for long-term socio-economic development, which will directly benefit the local community.
But Jasper is not left alone to represent South Africa in the world’s battle of the greatest in solar power. The 100 MW Redstone solar thermal power project is now under construction near another, already fully functioning, 75MW plant, named Lesedi that went online in May.
The target of the country is to hit 18 GW of renewable energy generation by 2030, and with all these projects going on, there is no way South Africa will not reach it.
Image (c) SolarReserve