‘Solar park’ on the cards for SA


12 October 2009

South Africa and the US-based Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) have signed an agreement paving the way for the creation of a “solar park” to help curb the use of conventional energy in favour of solar energy.

As part of the arrangement, South Africa will over the next few months, with help from the CCI, conduct a study on the development of such a park and determine where it would be best situated.

The CCI is also assisting governments in India and Australia as well as some south western states in America to develop similar projects.

Construction ‘in 2010’

Speaking at the signing in Pretoria last week, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said the government was committed to investigating alternative energy sources and assessing the available technology options, adding that that South Africa was gifted with natural renewable energy resources that remained largely untapped – solar energy being one of them.

She said the implementation of the agreement would be a key milestone in attaining the government’s 10 000 giga-watt hour (GWh) target by 2013.

According to its website, the CCI focuses on carbon capture and concentrated solar power as part of its clean energy initiatives. The solar park will make use of the latter, which according to Wikipedia makes use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam.

The concentrated light is then used as a heat source for a conventional power plant, or is concentrated onto photovoltaic surfaces.

CCI chairman Ira Magaziner hinted that construction for the park, which would initially boast a 5 000 megawatt capacity, could start as early as 2010. “We have already done enough work and we are confident that the results will be fantastic,” he said.

Copenhagen climate summit

Peters told BuaNews that the initiative would show South Africa’s seriousness about global warming ahead of what is likely to be a watershed climate summit in Copenhagen in December.

“As South Africa, we are committed to make sure that we can mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions and that we believe that doing nothing is actually dangerous, so this is a first of many initiatives,” Peters said.

She said South Africa had resolved to put more emphasis and more efforts in implementing projects that can help to mitigate climate change effects.

“Setting targets is important, but all countries need to begin to act,” Peters said, adding that the South African delegation will be going to the Copenhagen summit with the message that developed countries had a special responsibility to alleviate the effects of global warming.

SAinfo reporter and BuaNews

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