SA wants to use more solar energy

Friday, October 9, 2009

Pretoria - A large scale "Solar Park" that will encourage an extensive use of solar energy is on the cards for South Africa.

Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, on Friday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States-based Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI). The agreement will pave the way for the creation of a Solar Park aimed at curbing the use of conventional energy in favour of solar energy as the planet battles with the effects of global warming.

The CCI is also assisting governments in India and Australia as well as some south western states in America to develop similar projects.

As part of the arrangement, South Africa, with the help from CCI, will for the next few months conduct a study for such a park and determine where it would be best situated. According to Peters, the North West is currently being favoured due to its sunny weather conditions.

CCI chairman Ira Magaziner hinted that construction for the park, that would initially boast a 5 000 megawatt capacity, could start as early as next year. "We have already done enough work and we are confident that the results will be fantastic," Magaziner said.

Peters indicated that government had committed itself to investigating alternative sources of energy and to assessing the different technology options available. She said in line with the target of 10 000 giga-watt hours (GWh) by 2013, the implementation of Friday's agreement will be a key milestone in attaining the targets.

It is anticipated that consumers will have to brace themselves for a bigger increase in the electricity price in the near future.

But Peters noted that South Africa was gifted with unique natural renewable energy resources that still remained largely untapped with solar energy being one of them.

She told BuaNews that the initiative will show South Africa's seriousness about global warming ahead of what is likely to be a watershed climate summit in Copenhagen in December.

"As South Africa, we are committed to make sure that we can mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions and that we believe that doing nothing is actually dangerous so this is a first of many initiatives," Peters said.

She stated that South Africa had resolved to put more emphasis and more efforts in implementing projects that can help to mitigate climate change effects.

"Setting targets is important but all countries needed to begin to act," Peters said, adding that the South African delegation will be going to the summit with a message that the developed nations had a special responsibility towards alleviating the effects of global warming.