The projects were among the 19 approved renewable energy projects by the department under the second round of the countrys Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP). The first round of projects was approved last December.
Energy minister, Dipuo Peters said the new photovoltaic projects include: Solar Capital De Aar3 (75 MW); Sishen Solar (74 MW); Aurora Power Solutions (nine MW); Vredendal Solar (Pty) Ltd (8.8 MW); the Linde Group (36.8 MW); Dreunberg (69.6 MW); Jasper Power Company (75 MW); Boshoff Solar (60 MW); and Upington Solar (8.9 MW).
Overall, renewable energy projects with a combined capacity of 1,043.9 MW were approved yesterday, and will cost an estimated $3.4 billion to develop by 2016, the minister said. "The bid process has so far attracted bidders from international developers and funders, and been hailed as highly successful across the board," he added.
Although the government had approved projects worth 1,415.5 MW in the first round, the minister said some of them (which he declined to name) may not achieve financial close by the June 30 deadline.
The cost of photovoltaic plants, continued the minister, significantly dropped to an average of $198/MWh, from the $333/MWh for those approved last December.
The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) has welcomed the news. In a statement released, it said that it adds momentum to the development of solar energy in South Africa, which "is crucial in helping to attract foreign investment into South Africa and to ensure that there is long term viability for the sector."
It added that it is working with Eskom and the government, and is currently looking at ways to initiate a large-scale solar rooftop program.
Edited by Becky Stuart.