South Africa’s US $144m Kathu solar park synchronized to the grid

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South Africa’s 100MW Kathu Solar Park located in the Northern Cape, has accomplished its first synchronization to the national grid.

Tech and engineering companies, SENER and ACCIONA Industrial announced the reports and said they have reached a critical milestone in the construction of million dollar solar park.

Mr Siyabonga Mbanjwa, SENER Southern Africa Regional Managing Director acknowledged  that the synchronization has complied with all expected parameters to ensure the supply of power starts and end users can consume reliable energy once the plant is operational.

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The Kathu Solar Park CSP Plant

The Kathu Solar Park CSP Plant, is equipped with a molten salt storage system that will allow the plant to keep producing electricity 4.5 hours steadily in absence of solar radiation and guarantee dispatchable energy generation to meet on demand needs.

The solar park is estimated to provide clean and reliable energy to 179,000 homes. It was awarded preferred bidder in the 3.5 round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPPP) led by the South African Department of Energy.

The use of molten salt as thermal energy storage system will allow Kathu Solar Park to operate in a cost-effective manner, storing the generated energy from the sun, producing and dispatching electricity, in absence of solar radiation, to satisfy South Africa’s peak demand.

Local employment prospects

Construction on the unit began in May 2016, and it is expected to be completed in early 2019. During this phase, around 1,200 jobs are being created impacting positively the local employment prospects. In addition to this, it is estimated that the Kathu Solar Park will save six million tons of CO2 over 20 years, and it will foster more local economic development through several project.

“With the successful first synchronization at Kathu Solar Park we are heading into the final stages of the construction and commissioning phase of the project that will ultimately reach the COD (commercial operation date) for the plant in the next couple of months,” said Mr. Siyabonga Mbanjwa.