OPIC board approves US$250 million for South African solar project

The agency’s first solar power project in South Africa will be a 60MW plant aimed at diversifying the country’s electricity generation

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) - the US government’s development finance agency - interest in the project came in response to the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Program (REIPP), a South African government initiative that aims to increase investment in renewable energy production, especially solar power. It has a goal of having 3725MW installed by 2016.

And by involving two local firms as co-sponsors along with its U.S. investors, the project will also help South Africa meet the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) objectives of the program.

OPIC's financing will enable two U.S. companies, MEMC Electronic Materials and its subsidiary SunEdison, to construct and operate a solar photovoltaic plant in Boshoff in South Africa’s Free State province. All electricity generated by the plant will be sold to the national grid through a power-purchase agreement.

“We’re pleased to work with an experienced developer such SunEdison to deliver so many developmental benefits for South Africa, from the reduction of pollution and displacement of GHG emissions to the creation of local jobs and the realization of the country’s BEE program goals” said OPIC President Elizabeth Littlefield

Coal-fired plants currently produce 84 percent of South Africa’s electrical generation capacity.

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Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity