South Africa, Africa largest economy, has become the world leader in solar power generation following Queensland’s withdrawal of a $75 million funding from Australia’s Western Downs facility.
Australia has been crowing about becoming the global leader after a promise was made to disburse $1.2 billion on the Western Downs facility but the deal did not come through after Queensland withdrew the money promised by the state government under the administration of Labor Queensland leader Anna Bligh. However, with Bligh electoral defeat, the Newman government took over and backed out of the deal.
Inspite of this, the Solar Dawn Consortium insisted it is committed to the country’s large-scale concentrated solar power industry.
According to International Business Times, the project was supposed to build a 250-megawatt solar thermal power plant near Chinchilla in the southwest part of the state. It was calendared to begin construction in 2013.
“The process of developing major power projects remains complex and time-consuming, particularly given we are competing in a dynamic energy market,” a Queensland spokesman explained.
Meanwhile, a Spanish multinational corporation, Abengoa started the construction of two solar thermal projects (the 50-megawatt Khi Solar One and the 100-megawatt KaXu Solar One CSP) in South Africa last week. The two projects combine the use of a solar tower and parabolic trough technologies.
The two project has attracted power purchase agreements from South Africa government-owned power utility company, ESKOM while finance for the venture would come from South African and international financial institutions.
South Africa is succeeding in spite of Australia’s predicament by using stand alone systems while introducing a market-focused system that has caught the interest of the world’s biggest solar and other alternative energy developers using an auction-based system. That system has so far attracted over $5 billion worth of solar energy projects during its first two auctions.
Last week, global engineering solutions provider, Kentz Corporation Limited, announced that it has secured a $45 million Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for the 75MWp Kalkbult Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Project in the Northern Cape area of South Africa. The project,scheduled to be completed by January 2014, is a key component of Phase 1 of the South African Department of Energy’s 3,725MW Renewable Energy IPP Procurement Program.