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Solar steam helps power N Cape

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The plants have provided new jobs in a Province with one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country, at more than 40 percent

File picture: Nic Bothma

SOUTH Africa may still get most of its energy from coal, but in the sunny Northern Cape a different electricity source is taking hold – solar steam.

A Spanish renewable energy company has opened three thermal solar plants – which use the sun’s heat to turn water into steam – in the Province. The steam is then used to drive turbines to produce electricity – enough to provide electrical power to just short of a million people, or almost the Province’s entire population, according to its operators.

Just as important, the plants have provided new jobs in a Province with one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country, at more than 40 percent.

The first solar steam plant – KaXu Solar One, opened in 2015 in Pofadder – provided about 80 new permanent jobs and about 4500 temporary jobs, according to Sarah Marchildon, a spokesperson for the UN climate change secretariat.

The other two plants, including Xina Solar One, completed last year in Upington, have created another 45 permanent and 1300 temporary jobs. – Reuters