South Africa can become major player in solar power

“Increasing capacity towards solar power will enable South Africa to become a major player in the industry and to create thousands of jobs,” says Southern African Solar Association chairman Pancho Ndebele.

“The government’s current solar generation capacity targets are too low to stimulate the solar industry, he declared. “For South Africa to become a major player in the solar industry from both a manufacturing and generating perspective, we really need to look at expanding and building upon the opportunities within the solar energy field,” he added.

“The government has currently allocated 200 MW of concentrated solar power (CSP) by 2015 and 600 MW by 2019,” he revealed. “This is far below what South Africa has the potential to achieve. In fact, we should be targeting at least 2GW of Concentrating Solar Power by 2020,” Ndebele contended.

He said a move towards solar thermal would also support the New Growth Path initiative by providing thousands of jobs and training low-skilled workers.

“If the government allocated a greater target towards solar power it would attract manufacturers and investors to develop the solar power industry, which in turn would help to attract more competitors and drive down costs.” he maintained.

European Solar Thermal and Electricity Association chairman Jose Alfonso Nebrera said the cost of harnessing solar energy had been declining due to constant improvements being made to the technology. “International studies have shown that the cost of generating solar power could be reduced significantly over the next ten years,” he added. “Generation costs of solar thermal electricity could be reduced by up to 30% in 2015, and by more than 50% by 2025,” said Nebrera.

“The adoption of effective solar energy targets are particularly crucial for countries such as South Africa, which not only have abundant levels of solar irradiation, but also have a need for further job creation and investment, he went on to day.

“Given that solar thermal electricity generates more jobs per MW across the value chain than most renewables and conventional energy sources, it is urgent that policy makers and society at large understand the role solar electricity can play in the IRP 2010,” Nebrera concluded.