I have on my desk a picture of the Khi Solar One concentrated solar plant outside Upington, Northern Cape. More than 4,000 mirrors focus the sun’s energy onto the top of a tower 50 storeys high where pressurised steam is heated to 400°C. The focus point shines like a star, visible in the daylight from 10km away. When it began operation in February 2016 it was the first concentrated solar facility in Africa.

It was one of 28 projects that got the go-ahead in the first round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme in 2011. The programme had walked a tricky route, galvanised when load-shedding began in 2008 but accelerated into reality after the Zuma government committed to sharp carbon reduction targets at the 2009 Congress of Parties (COP) meeting...

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