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Africa is endowed with a rich bounty of natural resources. The sun is one of them.  Generally referred to as the “sunny continent”, Africa is the sunniest place on earth. Let us talk about THE LARGEST SOLAR PLANTS IN AFRICA. Despite its fortunate conditions, the penetration of solar power in Africa’s energy mix is still shallow and its massive PV potential remains untapped.

Africa has been historically relying on hydropower, which is, unfortunately, decreasing as the climate changes are causing a water crisis in the continent (Fougieres, 2019). As per the estimates, more than 645 million people of this content have no access to electricity and rely on coal, wood, etc. for meeting their daily energy requirements. 

This heavy reliance on fossil fuels is causing great concerns for the world environment due to such a large amount of CO2 emissions. This situation has the potential of getting even worse, as the continent’s population is expected to reach three billion by the year 2050.

Solar power in South Africa: A look at the country’s solar plants

Noor Solar Complex – 510MW

The 580MW Noor Ouarzazate Solar complex, located 10km from Ouarzazate, Morocco, is the largest CSP plant on the continent. The first phase of the $2.5 billion solar power station involved the construction of the 160 MW CSP plant, Noor I, while phase two involved the construction of the 200 MW Noor II CSP plant and the 150 MW Noor III CSP plant. The construction of the 70 MW photovoltaic (PV) Noor IV CSP power plant was undertaken during phase three. The solar power station is projected to offset an estimated 800,000t of CO2 emissions annually.

Solar Capital De Aar Project – 175MW

The biggest solar projects in Africa

Located in the Northern Cape, South Africa, the De Aar solar project was developed by Solar Capital. The project encompasses two phases (De Aar 1 and De Aar 3) with a combined installed capacity of 175MW.

De Aar 1 was commissioned in 2014 and became operational in 2016. The project as developed under the South African Government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

The De Aar solar project supplies green electricity to power up to 100,000 South African homes, making it the largest solar farm in the country.

Benban Solar Project – 165.5MW

The Benban Solar PV power station located in Benban, Egypt, has a total capacity of 1.8 GW. The $4 billion project is a complex of 41 solar power plants. Once fully operational, the plant will produce more than 4 TWh of power and prevent two million tons of CO2 emissions a year.

KaXu Solar One – 100MW

The biggest solar projects in Africa
KaXu Solar One provides clean energy to 80,000 South African households a year. Image courtesy of Abengoa.

KaXu Solar One is a 100MW solar power plant near Pofadder in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. It is the first commercially operated solar thermal electric power plant in South Africa.Must Read

Solar power in South Africa: A look at the country’s solar plants

Solar power in South Africa: A look at the country’s solar plants

Commissioned in March 2015, the public-private partnership (PPP) project supplies sustainable energy to South Africa’s power utility Eskom, under a 20-year power purchase agreement. Abengoa holds a 51% stake in the project while the IDC and KaXu Community Trust respectively own 29% and 20%.

The KaXu Solar One power plant is capable of delivering clean and green power to approximately 80,000 South African households.


Xina Solar One – 100MW

The biggest solar projects in Africa
Xina Solar One generates approximately 400GWh of green energy a year. Image courtesy of Sintemar.

Xina Solar One is located in Pofadder, South Africa and a 100MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant built by Abengoa with a $880m investment. The plant commenced its commercial operations in September 2017.

The CSP plant employs parabolic trough technology and offers 5.5 hours of thermal energy storage. The parabolic trough collector of the plant is touted to be the world’s biggest commercial CSP project to date.

The plant is anticipated to produce approximately 400GWh of energy, which is enough to power 95,000 homes while eliminating 348,000t of CO2 emissions per annum.

Ilanga-1 CSP Plant – 100MW

The biggest solar projects in  South Africa
The commercial operations of Ilanga-1 CSP plant began in November 2018. Image courtesy of SENER group.

SENER and its partners Emvelo and Cobra completed the commissioning and testing of the 100MW Ilanga-1 CSP plant in November 2018. Located in Karoshoek in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, the plant is owned by Karoshoek Solar One (RF) Proprietary.

The Ilanga-1 CSP plant features 266 SENERtrough® loops. The molten salt storage system installed at the plant ensures five hours of thermal energy storage to generate thermal energy in the absence of solar radiation.

The solar power plant is anticipated to provide clean energy to approximately 100,000 South African homes while annually cutting down 90,000t of CO2 emissions over 20 years.

 Kathu Solar Park – 100MW

The biggest solar projects in Africa
The 100MW Kathu Solar Park started commercial operations in January 2019. Image courtesy of SENER group.

The Kathu Solar Park (KSP) is a 100MW CSP project in Kathu in the province of Northern Cape, South Africa. The solar park started commercial operations in January 2019.

The KSP project is owned by Engie, SIOC Community Development Trust, the Public Investment Corporation, the Lereko Metier REIPPP Fund Trust, Investec Bank and the Kathu LCT Trust.

The greenfield project integrates parabolic trough and molten salt storage technology, ensuring 4.5 hours of thermal energy storage. It supplies 179,000 households in South Africa during their peak demand period.

 Jasper Solar Power Project – 96MW

solar projects in Africa
Jasper solar power project supplies power to 80,000 homes in South Africa. Image courtesy of SolarReserve, LLC.

With a 96MW-DC installed capacity, Jasper is one of the most significant solar energy projects in Continental Africa. The solar plant is located in Postmasburg in the Northern Cape Province in South Africa.

The solar power project was developed by SolarReserve and its consortium partners Kensani and Intikon Energy. Construction on the Jasper plant began in October 2013, while the project became fully operational in October 2014.

Jasper generates approximately 180GWh of renewable energy annually, which is sufficient to power 80,000 homes in South Africa.

Mulilo-Sonnedix-Prieska PV Project – 86MW

The 86MW Mulilo-Sonnedix-Prieska solar photovoltaic (PV) project is located across 125ha of land area in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. The solar plant began commercial operations in July 2016.

This project was developed by Mulilo Renewable Project Developments (Pty) in partnership with Mulilo Renewable Energy and Ixowave Women in Power, for Mulilo Sonnedix Prieska PV (Pty).

Solar power in South Africa: A look at the country’s solar plants

The Mulilo-Sonnedix-Prieska PV project supplies enough power to 40,000 South African households through the Eskom grid, during its life span of 20 years.

Kalkbult Solar Plant – 75MW

The 75MW Kalkbult solar PV plant is situated near Petrusville in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. Developed by Scatec Solar, the plant was officially inaugurated in November 2013.

Construction of the Kalkbult solar plant began in November 2012 and the facility was grid-connected in September 2013. The PV plant features 312,000 solar panels spread across 105ha of land.

The Kalkbult plant generates 135GWh of renewable energy a year, which is enough to feed 33,000 households. It will also offset 115,000t of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

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1 Comment

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