September 26th, 2016 by Glenn Meyers
Urban solar farms are now being explored in South Africa under a grant awarded by the US Trade and Development Agency.
The grant has been has awarded to SolarReserve South Africa Limited to advance its “Urban Solar Farms” initiative in South Africa. This is a study concerning large metropolitan municipalities intended to provide a framework for large commercial and industrial electricity consumers with significant renewable electricity power requirements.
The grant will support development of up to 200MW of solar farms ranging in size from 5 to 30MW. The projects will be privately owned and operated and will provide power to end users either directly or through wheeling arrangements with municipal distribution companies.
Energy Trend has reported the projects are mostly ground-mounted systems, addressing the problem of restricted roof space. The systems will be constructed in areas where there is a high demand for daily energy consumption. Additionally, Urban Solar Farms will incorporate the integration of solar power with energy storage to support peak energy demand requirements, as well as grid stability and help defer utility substation and network upgrades.
“This groundbreaking study has the potential to impact the way municipalities across South Africa accommodate privately-owned clean power generation within their distribution borders,” said SolarReserve’s CEO Kevin Smith, who signed the grant alongside USTDA Director Leocadia I. Zak. “It represents a unique approach to involving the private sector in expanding South Africa’s generation capacity, while stimulating job growth and small business development.”
It is anticipated urban solar farms have the potential to fill a niche market in South Africa for mid-sized generation projects that ensure a reliable, clean power supply for customers with substantial energy needs.
“This unique private sector-led power solution is a clear demonstration of the impact Power Africa is having on Africa’s economic development,” said Zak. “Working together with an innovative American company and a strong partner in South Africa, USTDA is proud to support increased use of renewable energy that will spur broader gains across the economy.”
SolarReserve is an energy developer with 246MW of solar capacity already on-line in South Africa. SolarReserve has selected U.S. firm Mott MacDonald, Inc., a global management, engineering and development consultancy working in over 140 countries, to conduct a critical study that will support SolarReserve with various technical, economic, financial, legal, regulatory, permitting and commercial inputs in order for SolarReserve to complete its strategic analysis and to progress financing and begin implementing the projects.
This grant agreement was signed during the US-Africa Business Forum in New York City, which is focused on strengthening trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa.
Image via Shutterstock
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