South Africa's department of energy is seeking private investors to partner in the development of a 600 megawatt (MW) gas-fired power plant and three solar parks in the Northern Cape province, according to a newspaper ad placed on Wednesday.
State-run power utility Eskom is scrambling to keep the lights burning in Africa's most industrialised country and diversify away from coal, which accounts for over 80 percent of South Africa's power needs.
The ad said the department was looking for expressions of interest from potential "strategic partners for the development, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of a 600 MW gas-fired plant."
For the solar parks, or plants, the energy department said "it is anticipated that ownership of the sites will remain with the state."
It also said the department wanted to promote the establishment of one or more solar technology manufacturing sites in the Northern Cape, a sparsely-populated and arid province that does not lack for sunshine.
Energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told parliament on Wednesday the government was turning to solar and wind to plug power shortages and supported plans for a gas pipeline from neighbouring Mozambique, which has vast untapped offshore reserves.
(Reporting by Ed Stoddard)