SunPower to support South Africa solar energy developers

SunPower, a company building one of the world’s largest photovoltaic solar power plants, is eyeing opportunities in the developing local renewable energy industry, MD Mario Riello said last week.

The start of the procurement process for independent power from renewable energy sources has triggered local and international interest in SA’s renewable energy. The Department of Energy last week hosted a conference for companies hoping to bid in the independent power producer (IPP) programme.

"We want to be part of the IPP programme. But we opted not to be in development but to support developers," Mr Riello said.

Compared with other programmes that had been launched in other parts of the world, he said, SA’s IPP programme was "very sophisticated and developed in a very detailed way. It allows the South African government and communities to benefit from renewable energy."

Mr Riello said work at SunPower’s 250MW solar energy project in California, US, was progressing well. The project is one of the world’s largest photovoltaic solar energy plants.

The government wants 3,725 MW to be procured from renewable energy under the programme. In the programme, the department has allocated 1,850 MW for onshore wind energy, 1,450 MW for solar energy photovoltaic, 200 MW for concentrated solar thermal power, biomass (12,5MW), biogas (12,5MW), landfill gas (25MW), small hydro (75MW) and 100MW for small projects.

According to the integrated resource plan for electricity, renewable energy technologies will account for 42% of all new electricity generation in the period up to 2030.

The Department of Energy on Friday issued proposals for tax breaks, about which the public can submit comments for the next 60 days.