NORTHERN CAPE – To most South Africans, the Northern Cape has little to offer, besides mines, diamonds, and maybe the occasional rack of Karoo lamb.
But from Kimberley to the West Coast, if there’s one thing the Northern Cape has in abundance, it’s sunlight.
Along with the mighty Orange River snaking its way across the province, this sunlight is putting the province at the forefront of a green energy revolution.
According to government, solar energy is just one of the ways it hopes to create a more balanced energy mix, and reduce the country’s dependence on Eskom and fossil fuels.
“The Northern Cape has some of the best sunshine in the whole world. I think only the deserts in Chile have more sunshine per square metre than we have. We have more energy coming in per square metre than just about anywhere else. So, for the same capital cost of building a plant, we get more energy out. And that’s why SA is such a popular destination for investment in solar,” explained Mark Pickering of Droogfontein Solar Power.
The Gestamp solar plant outside Prieska will generate 20 Megawatts of electricity.
This will be fed directly into the national power grid and is enough to power between 15 and 20 thousand homes.
And this is just a fraction of the potential power which will be generated.
Twenty similar, and in some cases larger, projects across the province, including several hydroelectric plants, will harvest the power of the Orange River’s flow.
Besides helping to solve our energy woes, these projects will also give the province an economic injection, in the form of jobs in manufacturing, and maintenance of the plants.
Construction of the Gestamp plant provided employment to more than 900 residents of Prieska.