There are a few obstacles when it comes to using solar power. The first requirement is sunlight, which South Africa has in abundance. The second is money, which South Africa has to… borrow from someone else. This might be why the newest solar power plant in the country was made by Amazon. Because they have all the money.
The online retailer, and supplier of hosting services to many, has completed a 10MW solar power plant in the Northern Cape. Amazon expects the facility to generate some 28,000 MWh (megawatt-hours) of power a year. Enough, the company says, to power some 8,000 South African homes for the year.
Amazon in the desert
Amazon won’t be doing that, but it’s the thought that counts. Or so they keep telling us. No, the online retailer will use its new 10MW facility to power its AWS data centres in the country. But they’re giving back to the country, at least a little. The 24,000 bifacial solar panel facility, which covers 20 hectares, is responsible for 167 jobs in the Northern Cape. It is also, according to Amazon, “…majority-owned by black women and operated by a fully South African-owned company.”
But don’t go thinking that Amazon’s doing all of the work. South Africa’s own government is working on a 100MW power plant in the Northern Cape as well. Because that’s where we store our sunshine, apparently. BusinessTech reports that Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul has given an update on the plant, which was first announced in May 2021.
The Redstone Concentrated Solar Power Project is located at Postmasburg and, Saul said, “…comprises 100 Megawatts of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). The plant will be constructed over a period of 31 months, achieving full commercial operation by the end of October 2023.” It’s not a purely South African exercise, though. Saudi company Acwa Power dumped $11.5 billion into the Redstone project when it was announced in May last year.