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As Eskom struggles to keep lights on, NC solar power plant comes online

As the country deals with a fresh round of load shedding, a Northern Cape solar plant has come online to power nearly 180,000 homes.

The Kathu solar power plant in the Northern Cape. Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - As the country deals with a fresh round of load shedding, a Northern Cape solar plant has come online to power nearly 180,000 homes.

With Eskom struggling to secure power supply, energy experts have emphasised the critical role that renewable energy plays in the country's energy mix.

At a cost of R12 billion, the Kathu Solar Park was constructed by engineering and technology group SENER and global renewable energy company ACCIONA Industrial.

With citizens reaching for rechargeable lights and getting used to the sound of generators kicking in, the focus has once against shifted to government's ability to keep the lights on and utilising more renewable energy sources to do so.

On hundred megawatts of electricity is being tapped into the grid after the Kathu concentrating solar power plant started operating at the end of January.

SENER Southern Africa's, Siyabonga Mbanjwa, explains the plant will also cut back CO2 emissions by six million tonnes over the next 20 years.

"Clearly we need to fast-track a lot of these renewable energy projects going forward. They are much smaller but they are much quicker to get off the ground and a lot of them are completed on time and within budget."

Mbanjwa says this technology also provides electricity at peak periods between 5pm and 10pm at night.

The company is one of 112 renewable energy independent power producers contracted by government to provide more than 6,400 megawatts of electricity.