A worker walks between solar panels. Picture: Reuters
A worker walks between solar panels. Picture: Reuters

Solar site in Breede River Valley region paves way for 'new gold rush'

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Jul 14, 2020

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Cape Town - As Eskom resumes rotational power cuts, South Africa should look to the Breede River Valley in the Western Cape as a case study for renewable solar energy, experts say.

Breede River Valley, until now well known as the province’s largest fruit and wine producing area, is fast becoming a hot spot for solar power with large commercial operations such as Kaap Agri, the Du Toit group and Pioneer Foods setting up shop as renewable energy producers.

The chief executive of EP Solar - a division of Energy Partners, Manie de Waal, said: “The Breede River Valley region, which includes Worcester, Ceres, Bonnievale, Montagu and Tulbagh, is a prime location for the implementation of solar energy.

“The key to solar power’s success in this area is not only the amount of sunlight hours that can be utilised effectively, but also the fact that all of these operations rely on power purchase agreements for their energy generation,” he said.

“We are running a number of large outsourced solar contracts in the Breede River Valley, ranging from manufacturers of agricultural equipment to fruit producers and bottling operations.

"It shows us that solar energy really is an extremely versatile solution for businesses in the region.”

This comes on the heels of a recent report from the South African National Energy Association that said: “Clean energy could be South Africa’s new gold rush and an an active driver of the country’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In June the government announced updated plans to implement the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 (IRP2019) which will contribute to the country’s Covid-19 economic recovery package.

In the 2020 Regional Market Analysis Intelligence Report stated: “Foreign direct investment in Cape Town’s renewable energy sector amounted to R5billion between 2008 and 2017.”

South Africa introduced its Renewable Energy Independent Power Procurement Programme in 2011, and many municipalities across the Western Cape already have the rules and tariffs in place for feeding into the grid when installing solar power.


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Cape Argus

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