Abengoa kicks off South Africa's first CSP plants construction

Published on: Tuesday, 06 November 2012
artist rendering of Khi Solar One, South Africa's first CSP tower plant

Abengoa has announced today that it has begun construction on the 50 MW solar power tower Khi Solar One and the 100 MW parabolic trough plant KaXu Solar One in South Africa. Both to be the first Concentrated Solar Power plants in South Africa.

Abengoa is partnering with the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), South Africa´s largest development finance institution, to create South Africa´s clean energy future by allowing the country to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel for power generation, specifically coal. Abengoa, who will build, operate and maintain the plants, owns 51% of the projects, the IDC holds 29%, and the Black Economic Empowerment program maintains the remaining 20%.

The signing of long term power purchase agreement (PPA) with South Africa's power utility Eskom, has taken place today alongside with the closed project finance agreement with a group of South African and international financial institutions.

Khi Solar One and KaXu Solar One, located in the Northern Cape Province near Upington and Pofadder respectively, will use advanced technology to provide South Africa with clean energy while creating local jobs and industry in the region. In addition to reducing the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by about 498,000 tons each year, the construction of Khi Solar One and KaXu will create roughly 1400 local construction jobs on average per annum, peaking near 2000, and about 70 permanent operation jobs. Numerous direct and indirect jobs will also be created to fulfill the needs required by the plant and its construction.

Abengoa has developed proprietary technology to meet South Africa’s needs and make solar an excellent solution. Both Khi Solar One and KaXu Solar One use the advanced dry cooling technology, which reduces water consumption compared to other CSP plants by approximately two thirds. The plants also have storage capacity of about two hours for Khi and three hours for KaXu, which can be used during transient periods and after sunset. CSP’s ability to be dispatchable will be a great advantage for South Africa as it will permit the country to bring more intermittent technologies, such as photovoltaics and wind into their renewable energy mix.

Abengoa currently has 743 MW of installed solar capacity around the world and 910 MW under construction, and it is one of the few in the world that builds and operates both parabolic trough and tower CSP plants. Khi Solar One is Abengoa’s third commercial solar power tower and its first outside of Spain. The company develops CSP technologies in its own R&D center located at the Solucar complex.

The third CSP plant to be built in South Africa, Bokpoort, developed by Saudi's ACWA, is expected to sign the PPA and project finance by March 2013.

The signing has been delayed for a few months due to South Africa government's needs to have fully populated contracts to be presented to the relevant structures within government for approval, as it was stated in a recent media briefing with South Africa's Energy Minister, Dipuo Peters.


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