SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

South Africa: U.S., Local Firms in U.S.$586 Million Solar Investment

A consortium led by US firm SolarReserve has secured US$586-million (R5.15-billion) in financing for two 75 MW solar photovoltaic projects that will spur economic development and create jobs while contributing to South Africa's renewable energy goals.

SolarReserve and its South African partners are one of 28 independent power producers that signed contracts with the South African government last week, in the first round of a programme that will see an initial 1 400 megawatts of renewable energy being added to SA's energy mix, while bringing an estimated R47-billion in new investment into the country.

SolarReserve, along with empowerment investment and financial advisory firm Kensani Group, and renewable energy company Intikon Energy, will build the solar PV parks near Bloemfontein in the Free State province and near Kimberley in the Northern Cape.

The companies said in a joint statement this week that the projects, scheduled for completion in mid-2014, would together power more than 50 000 homes with renewable energy from the sun.

At the same time, they would create about 600 construction jobs and 100 permanent operational jobs, as well as an additional 2 640 indirect and induced jobs across the supply chain during the construction phase and 140 indirect and induced jobs during operations.

Besides the skills and technology transfer this would involve, the companies said the two projects would set aside a percentage of total project revenues - amounting to approximately $59-million (R510-million) over the life of the projects - to be invested in enterprise and socio-economic development for the benefit of local communities surrounding the projects.

Kensani Group chairperson Wandile Motlana said in the statement that the projects' successful financial closure "demonstrated the South African government's commitment to the enhancement of national infrastructure which will be a catalyst of economic development and job creation.

"Kensani and our partners congratulate the Department of Energy on an efficient and successful process, and look forward to a positive partnership with government."

SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith said that SolarReserve had "further advanced photovoltaic and solar thermal projects in development in the country under this progressive programme initiated by the South African government, and look forward to continuing our work here."

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