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South Africa: Official launch of Kathu Solar Park

Today saw the inauguration of the Kathu Solar Park in the Northern Cape, as high profile attendees witnessed the power of South Africa’s largest concentrated solar power greenfield project in operation.

Kathu Solar Park is a Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Independent Power Producer project that is now feeding 100MW of energy into the national grid and providing 179,000 households in the Northern Cape with constant power.

Isabelle Kocher, CEO of global energy company ENGIE, the lead developer and major shareholder in Kathu Solar Park, said the company is pleased to contribute a sustainable source of clean energy to the grid, in good time.

The CSP project was built in under less than three years. “As this was ENGIE’s first CSP project that required very complex implementation, we are delighted that we are now able to start to demonstrate the application of concentrated solar power to mitigate intermittence issues of wind and photovoltaic and to continue to prove the benefits of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Plan to South Africa’s grid,” said Kocher. 

Kathu Solar Park

The solar park was awarded under Round 3.5 of South Africa’s REIPPP on 15 December 2014 and comprises a mix of stakeholders aimed at meeting stringent commercial and social objectives.

The multinational group includes South African investors SIOC Community Development Trust, Investec Bank, Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital Fund, and its co-investors FMO, the Dutch development bank and DEG, the German investment and development company, and the Public Investment Corporation.

The main contractor (EPC) was a special purpose vehicle comprising engineering and technology group SENER, ACCIONA and the Kelebogile Trust.

Kathu Concentrated Solar Project CEO, Cedric Faye, commented: “From the outset we wanted to make a lasting social-economic impact in the area. Not only are we now providing a sizeable contribution to the local power supply, I am proud to say that in addition to the 1,700 jobs that were created during construction, of which 42% of the workforce was hired from the local community, the project achieved a 45% local content acquisition mark. This represents a considerable skills transfer to the area.”  

Babalwa Bungane
Babalwa Bungane is the content producer for ESI Africa - Clarion Events Africa. Babalwa has been writing for the publication for over five years. She also contributes to sister publications; Smart Energy International and Power Engineering International. Babalwa is a social media enthusiast.