Solar Capital’s 75 MW De Aar project is ‘first phase’

Paschal Phelan

Cape Town renewable energy company Solar Capital says its 75-MW, R2.1-billion photovoltaic (PV) project in De Aar, in the Northern Cape, is the ‘first phase’ of what could eventually become a 300 MW solar farm, involving an investment of R18-billion.

The project has been named along with 27 other projects as among the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) initial batch of preferred bidders for its renewables independent power producer procurement programme.

Altogether a total of 18 solar PV ventures have been listed, with the De Aar project emerging as the largest such development, along with the Kathu solar energy facility, which also has a proposed nameplate capacity of 75 MW.

The company, which is chaired by Dr Mamphela Ramphele, says the De Aar development is part of the larger plan to deliver 25 solar farms on 50 000 ha of land in the Northern and Western Cape provinces.

Solar Capital will bid for additional licences when the DoE opens its next bid windows during 2012 and 2013. In total, the DoE plans to procure 3 725 MW by 2016, with only 1 415.52 MW allocated to preferred bidders during the first round, which closed on November 4.

Founder and CEO Paschal Phelan, whose Phelan Holdings is best known for its Cape Royale five-star luxury hotel, in Cape Town, says proven technology will be used and up to 500 000 panels could be installed at single locations.

“[The panels] will convert solar rays directly into electricity that will then be fed into the national grid. The panels have no moving parts, no emissions and are fast to install,” Phelan enthuses.

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