Amazon’s new 10-megawatt solar plant in South Africa up and running

Amazon has announced that its 10-megawatt solar power plant in the Northern Cape is up and running.

The retail and cloud services giant first announced the launch of the solar farm in November and is now promoting it internationally.

Amazon said that it expects the facility to generate up to 28,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy per year, equal to over 8,000 average South African homes.

The solar plant consists of over 24,000 bifacial solar panels — capturing sunlight on both sides — covering an area of 20 hectares (200,000 square metres).

Its solar panels track the sun throughout the day, absorbing solar energy from the sky and reflected light from the ground.

According to Amazon, this design will avoid an estimated 25,000 tons of carbon emissions annually, the equivalent of removing 5,400 cars from the road in South Africa.

Amazon said the project also contributes to the region’s economic transformation.

The solar plant is majority-owned by black women and operated by a fully South African-owned company.

“Historically, black women have been critically underrepresented in infrastructure, agriculture, and utility ownership,” said Meta Mhlarhi, co-founder and executive director at Mahlako a Phahla Investments, an investor in the project.

“Energy projects that enable black investment are our surest way to a just transition to renewable energy.”

AWS Energy and SOLA built a 10MW photovoltaic solar power plant in the Northern Cape

Amazon reported that the project created 167 jobs in local communities during construction and will sustain permanent jobs during its lifetime to support electrical maintenance, operation, and security.

“While we’re building renewable energy capacity in South Africa, we must also develop South African companies and skills,” said Dom Wills, CEO of SOLA Group, the South African company responsible for developing and operating the plant.

“SOLA is committed to transforming South Africa through clean energy, and being able to sell renewables to corporates at large scale makes this one of the most significant power projects in South African History.”

Amazon said that it became the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in 2020, reaching 65% renewable energy across its business.

The company has a global portfolio of over 270 renewable energy projects, generating more than 12 gigawatts of renewable capacity.

Once all these projects are operational, Amazon estimates that more than 13.7 million metric tons of carbon emissions will be avoided each year.

Now read: Small South African town to get R15-billion solar power plant

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Amazon’s new 10-megawatt solar plant in South Africa up and running