Masoka Dube

By Masoka Dube


Gauteng gets big solar farm, funded by developers

Gauteng government signs deal for 800MW solar farm to combat province's energy challenges and ease load shedding.

An 800MW solar farm that will be developed in Merafong on the West Rand will mitigate the burden of load shedding in the province, Mzikayifani Khumalo, Gauteng MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), says.

“The provincial government has today signed an agreement with two of the six independent power producers responsible for the development of the solar farm.

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“This milestone is in the process of contributing more energy into the grid to alleviate the energy availability challenges in the province,” Khumalo said at the signing event yesterday.

As of last year, SA had more than 2 700MW of installed photovoltaic solar power on its grid, with the installed capacity expected to reach 8 400MW by 2030.

“Energy is an essential component of our economy and ensuring that the nation’s economic hub has a reliable energy supply is vital for economic growth, employment creation and cushioning its residents, especially impoverished households, from load shedding,” said Khumalo.

Khumalo said the project was a public-private partnership which would be managed and developed by nonprofit company Bokamoso Ba Rona.

The founding partners of the company are the Far West Rand Dolomitic Water Association, Sibanye-Stillwater, West Rand district municipality and the Gauteng Infrastructure Financial Agency, according to Khumalo.

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He said the project would be developed on 1 600 hectares of land that has been donated by Sibanye-Stillwater.

“The mandate to the IPPs was to source their funding and acquire all permits for the site development, which means it will be implemented at no cost to the provincial government.”

Gauteng MEC for finance Jacob Mamabolo said it was a good template for what the public-private partnerships could achieve to “revitalise the economically distressed regions of the province and the country in general”.

Energy expert Chris Yelland has welcomed the development, that will reduce the burden on Eskom’s grid.

“Any solar project assists a lot to mitigate the impact of load shedding, especially during the day. When some households and businesses are using solar during the day, it will be a relief to the power utility’s plants.”

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Electricity energy Eskom Load Shedding solar power