South Africa’s energy department announces two solar plants in Northern Cape

solarpanel-bartspeelman-flickrSouth Africa’s department of energy has announced two concentrating solar plants (CSP) in the country’s Northern Cape province

The two plants – Kathu Solar Park and Redstone Solar Thermal Power – will develop 100MW of power and were the preferred bidders in the third round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), stated officials from the energy department.

Kathu Solar Park will be backed by a consortium led by GDF Suez and comprising the Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust, Investec Bank, Lereko Metier and Public Investment Corporation. The plant will incorporate parabolic trough technology and will be equipped with a molten-salt storage system that will allow four-and-a-half hours of thermal energy storage.

Meanwhile, Redstone Solar Thermal Power is being backed by a consortium led by SolarReserve and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power.

Kevin Smith, chief executive of SolarReserve, said, “Due to the fully integrated thermal energy storage, the plant will provide dispatchable power on-demand, just like conventional coal, oil, nuclear or natural gas-fired power plants, but without the harmful emissions or hazardous materials and without any fuel cost.”

Redstone Solar Thermal Power would use molten salt energy storage technology in a tower configuration, which would support South Africa’s demand for energy. The plant is designed to supply electricity to more than 200,000 homes in South Africa, said SolarReserve officials.

The entire project is fuelled by the sun and requires no back-up fuel. It also features dry cooling of the power generation cycle as an important element to minimise water use.

According to officials from SolarReserve, the project is scheduled to achieve financial close later in 2015 and begin operations in early 2018.

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