South Africa’s first 500kW concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) power plant representing the COP17 flagship project was officially inaugurated by President Jacob G. Zuma on Sunday, December 4. Soitec is a developer and manufacturer of III-V semiconductor materials for the electronics and energy industries.
As the solar flagship legacy project for the 17th annual Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the inauguration ceremony was attended by close to 200 distinguished guests including amongst others, President of COP17 and Minister of International Relations & Cooperation, Minister of Environmental Affairs, Minister of Energy, Minister of Economic Development as well as French, German and British governmental officials and their receptive ambassadors.
The solar plant located in Hazelmere, next to Durban, installed by Soitec and developed in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and Thekwini Municipality, was constructed in just one month. It showcases the country’s commitment to lowering its carbon footprint through the deployment of renewable energy during COP17. Group Five, an integrated construction services, materials and infrastructure investment group operating in Africa, was the construction partner for the project.
In his keynote address, President Jacob G. Zuma said, “This is South Africa’s first large scale offering within the Clean Energy Arena, but it is not the last. We congratulate all partners in this project. We are ready to forge and support those partnerships that will enable us to embark on the journey to a low carbon economy, while stimulating economic development and creating jobs,” added President Zuma.
In her speech, Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters said, “It is encouraging that this project has already started contributing towards the Integrated Resource Plan 2010 which outlines 42% of renewable energy by 2030 and leaves a legacy for COP 17. This is an exciting development for South Africa and will be the forerunner of a range of renewable energy projects currently being developed in the country.”
“This CPV is connected to the electricity distribution supply grid of the city to augment the power supply to the ICCC where the UNFCCC COP 17 is being hosted to reduce the carbon footprint of the event. This clearly demonstrates the state of readiness in the municipal’s energy planning and installation of this 500kw as a first phase. It is even more encouraging to see that the Municipality is a buyer of this clean electricity,” she continued.
“Soitec is proud to continue supporting the country’s young but growing renewable energy sector. We are committed to South Africa. No other company has taken a similar approach and we are ready to take the next step,” commented president and CEO of Soitec André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé. “It is a tangible commitment from South African government to ‘work together to save tomorrow today’.”
The 500 kW solar plant consists of 32 two-axis tracking systems to ensure that concentrated sunlight remains focused on the solar cells with a high degree of precision throughout the day, delivering constant power output feeding into the area’s power-supply grid. The Fresnel lens used in the modules focuses sunlight concentrated by a factor of 500 on the high-performance solar cells beneath for a world-leading module efficiency of close to 30 percent.