An $860 million concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in South Africa has stared commercial operations.
The 100 MW KaXu Solar One plant is one of the largest of its type in the world and also the first CSP plant to enter operation in sub-Saharan Africa. It is part of a wider plan by the South African government to boost renewable energy capacity and will help to relieve pressure on the country's strained electricity grid.
KaXu consists of 1200 mirrored parabolic trough collectors in a 1 km2 solar field near the town of Profadder, Northern Cape Province. It was developed by an Abengoa-led consortium, which won a license to build in the first round of South Africa's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer (REIPP) programme.
The plant also includes a 2.5 hour thermal energy storage system to enable energy production to continue after sunset or on a cloudy day.
Operation of the plant will be monitored by Mott MacDonald, which also served as lenders' technical advisor during the financing and construction stages. "Being the first CSP plant to enter commercial operation in the country, KaXu is already playing a key role in helping the South African government achieve its goal of introducing up to 17 800 MW of renewable energy by 2030," said Stavros Tassos, Mott MacDonald project director.