100MW CSP project kicks off in South Africa

Construction of a 100MW concentrating solar power (CSP) and thermal energy storage project has begun in South Africa.

Expected to be operational in the second half of 2018, Kathu Solar Park is being built by a joint venture of Spanish companies Acciona and Sener as engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contractor.

Based on Sener’s parabolic trough technology, the installation is also to be equipped with a molten salt storage system allowing the operational capacity of the plant to be extended some 4.5 hours after sunset.

This latest project adds weight to the growing use of CSP as a viable technology in areas with an appropriately high direct normal irradiance (DNI) levels, such as Africa and Brazil.

Located in the Northern Cape of South Africa, the Kathu project is being developed on behalf of a consortium led by French utility ENGIE as 48.5% owners. The consortium also includes the Investec bank, Lereko Metier and the Public Investment Corporation.

Groundbreaking follows the signing of a 20-year power purchase agreement between ENGIE and South African utility Eskom.

Bruno Bensasson, chief executive of the ENGIE Africa Business Unit, commented: “This is an important milestone for our first Concentrated Solar Power project in the ENGIE Group.”

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