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Carbon Market

OPIC funding 60-MW solar power plant in South Africa

South Africa will soon have its 60-megawatt solar power facility installed through a $250 million grant from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the United States government’s unit for development financing.

To be located in Boshoff in South Africa’s Free State province, the construction and operation of the solar power plant project will involve two local firms along with the U.S.-based silicon wafer manufacturer MEMC Electronic Materials and its subsidiary SunEdison.

When completed, the electricity that will be produced in the solar PV plant will be sold to the national grid through a power purchase agreement.

The solar photovoltaic plant will help South Africa expand its power resources and reduce its heavy dependence on coal, said the OPIC.

Currently, coal-operated plants in South Africa account for 84 percent of the country’s total power output. Through the new solar facility, an estimated 140,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions could be prevented for the first year alone.

The development of the project was stimulated by the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Program, an effort to raise investments in renewable energy production, focusing on solar power with a target of having 3,725 MW installed over the next four years.

“South Africa’s ambitious and impressive renewable energy program has established the country as a leader in the field,” said OPIC president Elizabeth Littlefield.

Ms. Littlefield stressed that the solar scheme will not only help cut environmental footprints but will also deliver other “developmental benefits” such as the creation of local jobs and the achievement of the goals under the Black Economic Empowerment – a policy by the South African government that aims to address racial segregation among South African citizens by providing them with economic benefits previously inaccessible for them. – C. Dominguez

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