The 50 MW De Aar Solar project today officially celebrated the start of construction. The event was well attended by guests representing the community, industry, international and local organisations, lenders and members of the government and local municipalities. The project is one of the first solar facilities in the country to eventuate as a result of the South African Government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
De Aar Solar Power is owned by a consortium consisting of Globeleq, Mainstream Renewable Power, Thebe Investment Corporation, engineering firms Enzani Technologies and Usizo Engineering and local community trusts.
Mark Pickering, Managing Director of Globeleq South African Management Services which jointly manages construction together with Mainstream Renewable Power for the De Aar Solar Power, Droogfontein Solar Power and the Jeffreys Bay Wind Power projects noted: “We are truly excited to be involved with these renewable power projects. “Solar energy is the most readily accessible resource in South Africa and its potential is immense. Globeleq looks forward to working with our consortium partners, the contractors and community to successfully build the project on time, safely and within budget. The company is excited at the opportunity to provide sustainable and clean sources of electricity; stimulating the expansion of South Africa’s renewable business and most importantly, contributing to the socio economic development of the communities in the project area.”
Located 6 km outside the town of De Aar on land owned by the Emthanjeni Municipality in the Northern Cape. The project will cover an estimated 90 hectares and will generate about 50 MW of clean renewable power using solar energy. Once constructed, the De Aar Solar Power facility will convert energy from the sun into electricity using 167,580 photovoltaic (PV) panels that will be fed directly into the Eskom 132 KV distribution system. Siemens Ltd South Africa, part of the Siemens Group, acts as Engineering, Procurement & Construction Contractor (EPC) for the project and will provide operations and maintenance of the solar facility for the first five years of operation. When generating, the facility is expected to supply enough clean, renewable electricity to power more than 30,000 South African homes and eliminate over 82,040 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mainstream Renewable Power’s Project Manager for the De Aar Solar Farm, Savva Antoniadis said: “Mainstream Renewable Power is delighted to see the De Aar Solar Farm going into construction after having developed the project with our partners Genesis Eco-Energy since 2009. We are now focused on bringing the solar farm successfully through construction so that it can start generating clean, sustainable energy from 2014 as well as bringing real and sustainable social and economic benefits to the region.”
During the construction period the project is expected to create hundreds of jobs and during the twenty year operation of the solar plant, approximately 20 long term jobs will be created to operate and maintain the facility. More indirect jobs will be created at local manufacturers and suppliers. The contractors are committed to source as many people from the local community as possible. Once operational, the project revenues are expected to benefit the local community through socio-economic and enterprise development programmes.