Cape Town.070228. WIND POWER: The assembling of the second of four wind turbines just off the R27 near Yzerfontein as seen today. The company Darling SEES will be selling the electricity to the City of Cape Town. Picture:Sophia Stander Reporter:John Yeld

Durban - The government will sign green energy deals worth R47 billion next week, paving the way for several new wind and sun power plants across South Africa.

The Department of Energy and Eskom will sign the deals on Monday and Tuesday with 28 companies to build 18 new solar photovoltaic plants, eight wind farms and two concentrating solar power plants to generate about 1 400 megawatts of renewable electricity.

Altogether, the government hopes to approve the installation of 3 700MW of renewable energy plants over the next eight years.

Although these account for only around five percent of the country’s future energy demand, the energy ministry says they mark a first step towards moving away from fossil fuel power stations.

Announcing new green energy targets at the COP17 climate change conference in Durban last year, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said the introduction of solar, wind, biomass, biogas and hydro power projects would “change the country’s power generation paradigm forever”.

“This represents a historic milestone in our country, and it is a demonstration of our departure from being associated with high greenhouse gas emissions, high water usage, health externalities and other environmental degradation,” Peters said. Most of the projects so far approved are in the north, east and western Cape.

However, it is understood that similar projects in parts of KwaZulu-Natal could be approved in future phases.

The SA Wind Energy Association welcomed the impending finalisation of the first phase. - The Mercury