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South Africa has now connected more than half a gigawatt of utility-scale solar power, moving into the world top 10 of countries harnessing renewable energy from the sun, according to figures released last month by Wiki-Solar.org.
Wiki-Solar is tracking global utility-scale photovoltaic power plant deployment, defined as photovoltaic (PV) power stations of 5 to 10 megawatts (MW) and above.
The United States tops Wiki-Solar's list of the top 10 markets for utility-scale solar power, with 349 solar plants totalling 6 498 MW, followed by China (4 607 MW), Germany (3 428 MW), India (1 897 MW), Spain (1 680 MW), the UK (1 523 MW), Italy (875 MW), Canada (714 MW), and France (677 MW).
South Africa is in 10th spot, with 15 solar plants now contributing 503 MW to the country's generation capacity.
Most of these plant were built under the first round of the government's renewable energy programme for private producers, and with several solar projects still under construction, and contracts for further projects having been signed, South Africa is likely to climb still further up Wiki-Solar's rankings.
In November, the Department of Energy signed agreements with 17 new preferred bidders in the third round of the programme, following the signing off of 47 projects in the first and second rounds, bringing to 64 the total number of renewable energy projects approved by the government since December 2011.
Once they are all operational, the 64 projects - representing foreign and domestic investment of over R100-billion - will add around 3 900 megawatts of wind, solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar power to South Africa's energy mix.
And in his State of the Nation address last month, President Jacob Zuma said the government would push ahead with the fourth round of the programme so as to take advantage of wind, solar, biomass and other technologies that increased opportunities for rural development in the country.
First-round solar projects that are delivering power to South Africa's national grid include:
Additional information: Wiki-Solar info
News date: 08/07/2014