South Africa constructs major solar power project

The construction of the Kathu Solar Park concentrated solar power (CSP) project with an output of 100 MW, in the Northern Cape, is scheduled to start soon. This comes after the signing of a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) by the South Africa’s State-owned electricity utility Eskom and ENGIE.

The highly technological plant will be designed with a molten-salt storage system that allows 4.5 hours of thermal energy storage and is scheduled to be functional in the second half of 2018.

A consortium made up of ENGIE, with 48.5% interest, and the SIOC Community Development Trust, Investec Bank, Lereko Metier and the Public Investment Corporation is developing the project.

Meanwhile the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Rand Merchant Bank, Nedbank Capital, ABSA Capital and Investec will jointly provide debt funding.

Bruno Bensasson the Business Unit CEO at ENGIE Africa described the PPA as a big milestone, said the Kathu Solar Park to be first CSP project undertaken by the group.

The project came as the preferred bidder during the third bid window for the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

Up to date, a total of 6 377 MW worthy of renewable energy projects have been procured through the REIPPPP, most of these being wind and solar photovoltaic (PV), with a total of 44 projects, which represent a capacity of 2 021 MW, and was connected to the national grid in 2015. The program has also generated US$13 billion in private investment.

Bids for another 1 800 MW of renewable energy projects are currently being evaluated, with 450 MW set aside for additional CSP capacity.

Apart from the Kathu Solar Park, the other CSP projects either producing or in development include the the 50 MW Khi Solar One power-tower project , the 100 MW Ilanga 1 development ,50 MW Bokpoort CSP project, , the 100 MW KaXu Solar One, Xina projects and the 100 MW Redstone Solar Thermal Power project. In addition, Eskom is also planning to set up its own CSP project.