CSP plant Bokpoort
Bokpoort CSP plant has broken a new record for continuous round the clock operation in Africa. Image: Bokpoort CSP.

South Africa’s Bokpoort concentrated solar power (CSP) plant has become the first renewable energy facility on the continent to complete a full week of continuous round the clock operation.

Bokpoort CSP set the new African continent benchmark, achieving 13 days (312 hours) of continuous operation on 23 October 2020. Saudi Arabian developer, investor and operator of power generation and desalinated water plants, and lead shareholder in Bokpoort CSP plant, ACWA Power, said this new record is almost double the previous record set in March 2016. This initial record was 6 days.

The accomplishment was made possible by optimally managing 9.3 hours of the thermal salt storage system overnight, which allowed for a perfectly timed transition to the solar field every morning for the duration of the record-breaking effort.

Read More:
Bokpoort CSP project achieves 21.7GWh production record in winter
SAREC disappointed in lack of CSP in the IRP2019
CSP with energy storage to ensure stable power supply

The 50MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant with thermal storage was commissioned during the second bidding window of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) and has been setting consistent records since it commenced operations in 2016.

Bokpoort CEO Christo Spammer: “We take the utmost pride in this record-breaking effort that successfully delivered 312 hours of continuous operation which translates to approximately 13GWh of energy supply to the grid at an energy load factor of 83%. This is remarkable for a renewable energy facility and is equivalent to about 20 hours of full load operations daily (with a 50MW turbine), akin to base-load technologies.”

“This new feat stems from the consistent monthly production records being set by Bokpoort CSP since Jun 2020. The plant delivered the highest ever production for the months of August and September and has continued to deliver excellent performance in October 2020, achieving an all-time highest daily record of 1028Mw earlier this month,” said Spammer.

CSP plant achieved record amidst severe restrictions

The consistency and reliability of the plant performance is evident in its 101.2% cumulative product performance between June and October 2020, in relation to the production simulation model that sets out its design expectations. “The fact that this performance was achieved during a global pandemic amidst national lockdown protocols, and where the COVID-19 virus had impacted site operations and imposed deployment restrictions, is phenomenal,” Spammer added.

Bokpoort CSP chairperson said the plant is now setting records with consistent regulatory and can now be considered a role model CSP facility delivering on all fronts, including production, health, safety, environment and socio-economic obligations.

Regional head of Africa for ACWA Power and director of the Bokpoort CSP Board, Badi Derradji, said their goal is to regularly deliver clean, reliable and renewable energy. “The Bokpoort CSP plant is a testament to our efforts to drive operation excellence and has helped us demonstrate that CSP plays an integral role in supporting the continent’s ambitious development plans. Consistent performance by Bokpoort CSP and other ACWA power plants including the Noor CSP Plants in Quarzazate Morocco continue to highlight the true potential of the CSP technology,” said Derradji.

The IEA Concentrated Solar Power Technology Collaboration Programme aims to accelerate CSP technology development, market deployment and collaboration. Their June 2020 report says growth in the technology over the next few years is expected to come from developing countries, especially China, Morocco and South Africa.