US-Based 247Solar To Build First Commercial Plant In Drought-Hit Southern Africa

By Kevin Mwanza Published: November 29, 2016, 10:10 am
Noor I Concentrated Solar Power plant, Morocco. Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP/wfdd.org

247Solar, a company owned by U.S.-based private energy firm Wilson Solarpower Corporation, will build its first plant in South Africa as it starts off commercialization in the southern Africa region.

The energy startup has partnered with Stellenergy (Pty) Ltd, a South African renewable energy company formed in 2013, to provide off-the grid electricity as the nation battles decreased electricity production alongside Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana due to the worst drought in three decades that hit the region since late last year.

“Southern Africa has a large and growing need for low-cost, reliable electricity. We are delighted to be incorporating this innovative heliostat field into our system and to be working with Stellenergy to commercialize it,” Bruce Anderson, 247Solar Chief Executive Officer, said in a press release.

The 247Solar PlantTM plants are able to produce power non-stop by converting sunlight into heat, which powers the turbines all year-round, independent of all weather conditions.

The plants which require minimal on-site labor to install do not use oil, hydrogen or helium, giving them significant advantages over other sources of clean energy, according to information on the firm’s website.

The plant will generate between 300 to 400 Kilowatt-electric (KWe) of non-stop power supply in Africa’s biggest economy where a power crisis since last has hampered various economic sectors.

Several coal plants which provide about 77 percent of electricity have been on the decline due to under-funding from the government and lack of investment in new ones.

South Africa’s partnership with Wilson Solarpower Corporation is one the many efforts by African governments to provide off-grid power to the more than 600 million who have no access to electricity across the continent.

Several nations, led by Morocco, Egypt, South Africa and Kenya are leading the continent’s push for use of renewable energy sources by exploiting the vast potential in solar and wind energy.

Many households on the continent use wood and charcoal to cook, leading to massive levels of air pollution and deaths of nearly 600,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa, according to Africa Progress Panel.

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