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Concentrix Plans 50-Megawatt Solar Power Plant in South Africa

Concentrix Solar GmbH, a unit of French semiconductor manufacturer Soitec SA, is developing a concentrated photovoltaic project in a semi-desert region of South Africa known as the Klein Karoo.

The German subsidiary announced its plans at the installation of a 60-kilowatt pilot plant at the Aquila Private Game Reserve in Touwsrivier in the Western Cape Province.

The facility is intended to initiate the transfer of the technology and start skills training for the operation and maintenance of a larger, utility scale installation, Vincenzo Bellini, director of business development in South Africa for Concentrix, said in a telephone interview today.

Concentrated photovoltaic technology, known as CPV, makes more efficient use of sunlight than conventional photovoltaic panels through the use of “concentrating optics.”

Bellini said an environmental impact assessment for the 50-megawatt project is underway and lease agreements for land have been signed with farmers in the region.

Funding for the 260 million-euro ($334 million) project has been secured, he added. All that is still required is a power purchase agreement from South Africa’s energy utility Eskom Holdings Ltd.

CPV technology does not qualify for a feed-in tariff in South Africa under the country’s current renewable energy incentive program. The energy regulator Nersa excluded it from the guidelines it published in November 2009 because of the technology’s “high economic cost.”

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