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The plant will be built in South Africa's Northern Cape region. It's a sparsely populated province that experiences near-constant sunshine. It will be constructed in phases over 10 years, and is expected to cost more than $20 billion. When completed, the plant will generate five gigawatts of power, or roughly one-tenth of the country's current energy supply.
Power shortages are relatively common in South Africa. There are frequent rolling blackouts, and Eskom, the state-owned electricity company, regularly asks consumers to turn off appliances. The country's large infrastructure and rapidly growing population are expected to further strain the grid in coming years. And while the country has dramatically increased access to electricity among the poor, roughly one-sixth of the population here still lives without power.
The new plant is expected to reduce South Africa's heavy dependence on coal, and to help the country meet new international carbon emission standards. The project will be funded by the private sector, and a final feasibility study has already been completed by the Clinton Climate Change Initiative.