South Africa has witnessed an exponential rise in renewable energy projects, with solar energy playing a major role.
As such, solar farms are becoming increasingly common across many parts of the country. However, costs to construct solar farms in South Africa vary considerably based on several factors. When building a solar farm, the size of the project is an important factor.
Larger farms typically offer lower costs per watt than smaller projects.
Other elements that could influence cost include the location of the solar farm, the type of panels used, efficiency levels of solar panels and labour and material cost.
South Africa’s abundant sunlight and supportive government policies have made the country an attractive location for solar farm projects.
As of 2016, the installed solar power capacity in South Africa was 1,329 MW, and it is projected to surge up to 8,400 MW by 2030.
The Jasper Solar Energy Project stands as one of Africa’s largest photovoltaic power stations, providing enough solar power to satisfy the electricity needs of approximately 30,000 households.
As a result, multiple ongoing or planned solar farm developments in South Africa make it one of Africa’s major hubs for renewable energy investment.
Cost Of Building A Solar Farm In South Africa
The cost of constructing solar power plants in South Africa is not fixed and varies based on size and capacity.
For instance, a 1MW plant would cost around R10 million, while a 100MW one would reach close to R1 billion.
Solar power systems have four key components: solar panels, an inverter, a lithium battery bank and a charge controller.
While installing a solar power system may be expensive, its long-term advantages are numerous.
For instance, an average house installation may cost R63,000 to R200,000 depending on electricity demand and how many appliances are connected.
Power consumption is determined by how many devices are connected and their wattages.
Additionally, the cost of running a solar power plant is an important factor to consider. In general, running a solar power plant is much cheaper than a traditional one.
For instance, the operational cost of a solar power plant is about ZAR2, which is considerably lower than the operational cost of a traditional power plant.
Important Factors affecting the cost of Solar Farm
Size Of The Project
The size of the solar farm is one of the most significant factors affecting the construction cost. Due to economies of scale, larger solar farms tend to have a lower cost per watt than smaller projects.
Location Of The Solar Farm
The location of the solar farm can affect the construction cost.
Factors such as the terrain, accessibility, and proximity to transmission lines and substations can all impact the solar farm’s cost.
Type Of Solar Panels Used
The type of solar panels used can also impact the cost of building a solar farm. Some solar panels are more expensive than others due to their efficiency, durability, and lifespan.
Efficiency Of The Solar Panels
The efficiency of the solar panels can also affect the construction cost.
Higher efficiency solar panels may be more expensive, but they can generate more electricity, which can offset the higher cost over time.
Cost Of Labor And Materials
The cost of labor and materials can vary depending on the location and availability of resources. For example, labor costs may be higher in urban areas than rural areas, and the cost of materials can vary depending on availability and transportation costs.
Financing And Permitting
Financing and permitting can also affect the cost of building a solar farm.
Obtaining financing and necessary permits can be time-consuming and expensive, which can add to the project’s overall cost.
Maintenance And Operations
The cost of maintenance and operations is another factor that can impact the cost of a solar farm.
Regular maintenance and upkeep are necessary to ensure the solar farm operates efficiently and generates electricity as expected.
These costs can vary depending on the size of the solar farm and the type of equipment used.
Leading Solar Power Plant In South Africa
Kathu Solar Park
Kathu Solar Park, located in South Africa, stands as the country’s largest solar park with an impressive capacity of 100MW. The construction of the plant began in May 2016, and it commenced commercial operation in January 2019, with a projected lifespan of 30 years.
During peak demand periods, the plant will produce sufficient energy to power 179,000 homes in South Africa.
Jasper Solar Power Project
The Jasper Solar Power Project is another solar farm situated in South Africa’s Northern Cape region. The 96MW plant, comprising 325,000 solar panels, has been operational since October 2014. The plant generates 180GWh of electricity each year, enough to power 80,000 homes in South Africa, and will offset over 145,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
Solar Capital De Aar Project 1 and 2
The Solar Capital De Aar Project comprises two solar farms. Project 1 was completed in August 2014, with a capacity of just over 85MW, while Project 2 was added in April 2016, with a capacity of 90MW, bringing the combined capacity to 175MW. The solar facility covers 500 hectares and is made up of 700,000 solar panels.
Are There Any Government Incentives In South Africa For Building A Solar Farm?
Yes, the South African government offers incentives for renewable energy projects such as solar power projects.
These include tax breaks, rebates, and subsidies. Furthermore, their Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP) has enabled the financing and development of numerous renewable energy projects throughout South Africa, such as solar farms.
How Much Electricity 1 MW Solar Power Plant Can Produce?
A 1 MW solar power plant is not a small-capacity solar power system; it can produce an impressive amount of electricity.
The amount of power produced depends on the system’s daily output, which is about 4 units for a 1 kW system.
So, with 1000 kW or 1 MW capacity, the plant can produce around 4,000 units daily to monthly power production at 120,000 units and annual power generation of 1,440,000 units.