South Africa’s Solar Boom: How Renewable Energy is Powering the Nation’s Future

How renewable energy company Scatec is helping the country transition to a green future

by Motoni Olodun

South Africa is set to increase its solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity significantly in 2024, as more homes and businesses switch to clean and sustainable energy sources. According to renewable energy company Scatec, solar PV’s installed power capacity will surpass that of coal, becoming the largest power source in the world by 2027.

Scatec is one of the leading players in South Africa’s burgeoning solar industry, with several projects in the Northern Cape and Grootfontein regions. The company’s facilities contribute substantially to the country’s solar energy output, with a cumulative capacity of 813 MW in solar production and 1,140 MWh in battery storage.

“Earlier this year, Scatec reached financial close on a new trio of plants in Grootfontein, which will have a total capacity of 273 MW. Construction will continue in earnest, with completion expected in 2025,” says Scatec sub-Saharan Africa executive VP Jan Fourie.

“Meanwhile, in North Cameroon, Scatec preassembled tailored solar power and battery storage systems, which are the first of their kind to be deployed in the country, and the solar hybrid and battery storage plants boast a capacity of 36 MW solar and 20 MW or 19 MWh of energy storage,” he adds.

South Africa’s solar boom is driven by several factors, including the rising cost and unreliability of traditional energy sources, the growing awareness and demand for green alternatives, and the supportive regulatory environment and incentives from the government.

In 2023, South Africa faced unprecedented load shedding, resulting in devastating economic losses, especially in key sectors like tourism, mining, commerce, and manufacturing. In response, the government announced several measures to improve the nation’s electricity supply, including the rapid development of renewable energy projects, the alignment of the sector’s policies and regulations, and the creation of an enabling framework that facilitates and attracts private investment.

Scatec, as a major multinational player in the renewable energy industry, is part of the ambitious worldwide push to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. The company has made a commitment to slash its absolute Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions across its value chain by 2040. Its climate targets have been endorsed by the private sector climate action organization Science-Based Targets Initiative.

“The outcomes for Scatec and our host communities are intrinsically connected, and we believe that thriving, sustainable communities are crucial for the social development of our people and our success as a company,” Fourie notes.

“Our projects have helped catalyze the economy, in economically troubled regions, and helped the people capitalize on the one resource they do have in abundance, namely sunlight. As major employers in some of these areas, we have taken on the role of custodianship. Our activities have become integral threads of the socioeconomic fabric of our host communities, and we look forward to taking these mutually beneficial partnerships further in 2024 and beyond,” he says.

South Africa is not alone in its pursuit of solar power. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, global solar PV capacity increased by 22% in 2023, reaching 714 GW. China, the US, Japan, India, and Vietnam were the top five countries for solar PV installations in 2023, accounting for 70% of the global total.

Solar power is widely seen as a key solution for the world’s energy and environmental challenges, as it offers clean, affordable, and abundant energy for all. As the technology improves and the costs decline, solar power is expected to become more accessible and widespread, especially in developing countries with high solar potential.

In a time of heightened global climate action and socioeconomic transformation, Scatec is proud to be one of the companies at the forefront of the global energy shift. The company is especially proud of its contributions to mitigating South Africa’s energy crisis, and the strides it has made with employment and skills creation in host communities.

“Looking ahead to 2024, we are wholeheartedly committed to supporting South Africa’s energy needs and determined to forge ahead with laying solid groundwork for an equitable, prosperous energy future,” Fourie avers.

Source: Engineering News

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