by Emmanuel Tjiya
JOHANNESBURG, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- South Africa has tabled its plans to build what could be the world's biggest solar park project to hundreds of investors from around the globe at a recent two-day conference, which was organized to generate funds for the multi-billion dollars project set to be financed mainly by private investors.
The two-day Solar Park Investors Conference, organized by the South African Department of Energy, saw more than 400 investors from South Africa and other foreign countries including France, Spain, India as well as the United States make way to the small town of Upington,situated in the country's Northern Cape Province, to learn more about the Solar Park project.
''It give me a great pleasure to be afforded the opportunity to address the Solar Park Investors Conference...This is one of the memorable days in our calendar as it marks the beginning of a progressive shift towards clean renewable energy technologies in our country,', South Africa's Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters said at the opening of the conference.
''Your presence reaffirms that a transition into a low carbon economy is no longer just a wish by certain sectors of the society, but instead it is a country commitment driven with full support of our political and government leadership...such diversity in our energy mix is a cornerstone of energy policy.''
The project will need an investment of 21.4 billion U.S. dollars to get off the ground.
The South African government will provide infrastructure for the project, then lease it out to private developers who would finance and build individual projects that would sell power to the South African electricity grid.
''It is agreeable that government alone cannot manage and fund the transition to a green economy. Therefore local and international private sector companies as well as civil society also have a significant role to play in advancing a green economy future,'' Peters pointed out.
South Africa signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the non- profit Clinton Climate Initiative, a program sponsored by former U. S.president Bill Clinton charitable foundation, in October 2009, in which they agreed to collaborate in the implementation of curbing the use of conventional energy in favor of solar energy.
The two have since been working tirelessly to bring the project to light.In essence, the Solar Park will use large lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam.The concentrated light will then be used as a heat source for a conventional power plant.
CCI has conducted a pre-feasibility study into the potential of creating a Solar Park in South Africa. The study found that the country's Northern Cape Province, which sits at the edge of the Kalahari Desert, was the perfect location for the project.