Sener and Acciona have started the salt melting process at the Kathu concentrated solar power (CSP) park, marking another important milestone for the project.

The CSP plant will add 100 MW to South Africa’s electricity grid and will be equipped with a molten salt energy storage system with 4.5 hours of thermal energy storage.

The storage system will store heat from the solar field that can later be recovered to produce steam and generate electricity in the absence of solar radiation, extending the operational capacity of the plant after sunset and during cloudy weather.

Siyabonga Mbanjwa, Sener Regional Managing Director in Southern Africa, commented: “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 the peak of demand.”

Kathu will Sener’s parabolic troughs covering an area of 400 ha.

Kathu solar park is one of the awarded projects in bid window 3.5 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP) led by the South African Department of Energy (DOE). Sener and Acciona were appointed by Engie to provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for the project.