On a quiet plain in the rural center of South Africa sits a small town called Boshof. It’s far from the bustling cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, and hundreds of miles from the dramatic, hilly coastline of the Cape of Good Hope. But Boshof, in the country’s underdeveloped Free State, is the site of a major project to generate electricity from the sun. In the sunny fields there, SunEdison, LLC is constructing a 60 megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant with the support of OPIC financing.
On March 11, OPIC presented SunEdison with the Impact Award for Renewable Resources for its work on the Boshof solar project. The award recognizes SunEdison’s work on a project that not only advances OPIC’s own goals for supporting renewable resources but also supports South Africa’s ambitious renewable energy program.
OPIC supported this project with a $250 million loan to SunEdison LLC, a longtime partner that has also received OPIC support for solar power plants in countries around the world, including India, Thailand, and Chile.
“OPIC has supported multiple projects that have introduced a source of clean electricity in emerging markets,” said White House Counselor John Podesta, who presented the Renewable Resources award at a ceremony last week. “SunEdison has been a real leader in taking on these highly complex power projects in the developing world, in places that are in great need of additional electricity.”
In addition to providing a new source of electricity in a rural part of the country that sits away from the established networks of power transmission, the Boshof plant is also benefiting the local economy by creating over 200 jobs during the plant’s construction and several projected technical manager positions needed to operate the solar facility once complete. The project is also an example of how OPIC can support increased electricity generation access across Sub-Saharan Africa, a region where residents have some of the lowest access to power in the world.
The OPIC Impact Awards are a first for the agency, which decided this year to recognize the outstanding work of some of its partners.