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PV solar gaining popularity in SA

PV solar gaining popularity in SA (Image: www.c2a-project.eu)

In April 2015 the South African government announced the fourth round of successful bidders of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP,) and have projected that approximately 1000 megawatts (MW) of power will added to the national grid as a result of these projects. 

According to Arthur Chien, VP of Talesun Energy, South Africa is making great strides in terms of adopting renewable energy practices.  “According to statistics released by Wiki Solar, a world leader in information about the deployment of solar photovoltaic power stations, in 2014 the country was ranked among the top ten countries in the world which harnesses renewable energy from the sun.

“With the advancement of the REIPPP programme and other renewable energy projects that are on the go, South Africa should be optimistic that sustainable power solutions are on the horizon.” 

Chien says that in South Africa there are multiple solar power projects on the go, some of which are contributing to the national grid, such as the Jasper Power Plant based in Kimberly and the Sishen Solar Energy Facility based in the Northern Cape.

“The Kalkbult solar photovoltaic power station based in the Northern Cape which now produces 150,000MWh per annum, which is enough to power 35,000 residential homes. These projects demonstrate that PV solar power is very much increasing and playing a key role in South Africa’s energy sector.”

He says that according to a report by the International Energy Agency Photovoltaic Power System Programme, the total global capacity for solar PV power reached 177 gigawatts (GW) in 2014, up by 38.7 GW from the previous year.

“These figures highlights that countries are serious about progressing towards cleaner and more sustainable energy solutions. In the United States of America (USA), for example, PV solar energy generation is significantly increasing each year. The State of American Energy Report reveals that PV solar energy was the fastest growing renewable energy source in the USA in the first half of 2014.” 

Chien further points to new research released earlier this year by GMT Research, which shows that yearly PV solar installations in the USA increased from 4,776 megawatts (MW) in 2013 to 6,201 megawatts in 2014, a 30% increase in one year, the biggest solar increase the US has ever experienced. The research further reveals that in 2014, PV solar energy represented 32% of new generating capacity in the USA, whereas wind only represented 23%. 

“Various aspects contribute towards the growing popularity of PV solar power globally, such as cost saving. Renewables are proving to be a more cost effective source of energy generation compared to diesel and coal, and according to a recent study by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) study South Africa saved R3.7 billion in 2014 through the use of wind and PV solar energy,” says Chien. 

“In the long term PV solar power will help meet the increasing energy demands worldwide. It is therefore imperative that each economy recognises the benefits of renewable energy and the importance of focusing efforts on developing these sources to ensure a sustainable future,” he concludes.

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