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South Africa cuts ribbon on landmark Kathu 100MW CSP

One of three largest solar power plants in the nation, Engie-led parabolic trough development to power 180,000 homes

South Africa’s 100MW Kathu concentrating solar power (CSP) development, one of the three largest in the country, has been inaugurated.

Built as engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) project by Sener and Acciona for an Engie-led developer consortium, the 400-hectare plant, located in the North Cape region, will supply power to 179,000 households and save 6 million tonnes of CO2 over the next 20 years.

Kathu, which uses parabolic-tough technology equipped with a molten salt energy storage that afford 4.5 hours back-up , is the second CSP project jointly developed by the two companies in South Africa, the first being the 50MW Bokpoort plant opened in late 2016.

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“We are proud to have contributed to make this clean energy project a reality in South Africa. From Sener, we have contributed with our knowledge in engineering, construction and commissioning, from the experience of our engineers in about 30 solar power plants developed in different parts of the world,” stated Sener CEO Jorge Unda.

“We have left our mark not only in this project, but also in the local community, through social projects that have benefited nearly 17,000 people.”

Ramón Jiménez, managing director of Acciona Industrial, added: “Kathu is another example of Acciona’s commitment to renewable energy. Construction of this plant has had and will have a major impact on the economy and residents of the region … provid[ing] the local community with a safe and manageable power supply, helping to offset the effects of climate change.”

The parabolic troughs at Kathu – made up of 384,000 heliostat mirrors – are integrated with Sener’s patented optimised collector technology SENERtrough-2 system, designed to “optimise power storage capacity and keep costs to a minimum”.

Kathu was one of the projects awarded in 2014 by the South African Department of Energy as part of 3.5 of its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

Along with Engie, the Kathu developer consortium includes a group of South African investors made up of SIOC Community Development Trust, Investec Bank, Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital Fund, as well as Dutch bank FMO, German investment and development company DEG, and South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation.

Construction of Kathu channeled investment totaling €1.25m in to the Kelebogile Trust, supporting social initiatives helping nearly 17,000 beneficiaries.

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