Africa’s first solar thermal tower technology power plant, Khi Solar One, has commenced commercial operation. Located in South Africa’s Northern Province, the power plant has an installed generation of 50MW, enough power to electrify 45,000 local households.
[quote]Spanish-based clean power solutions firm, Abengoa, was responsible for the construction, operation and maintenance of the plant. The energy solutions company has a 51% stake in the project; the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), one of South Africa's development finance institutions, holds 29%; and Khi Community Trust holds the remaining 20%, the Spanish firm said in a company statement on Friday.
This public-private partnership was awarded by the Department of Energy (DoE), which will see Khi Solar One supply clean power to the national power utility, Eskom, through a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement.
Khi Solar One: clean power technology
Khi Solar One is installed with a storage system that has the ability to produce two-hours of power, which uses molten salts that enable the plant to meet evening peak demand.
The solar thermal project has the potential to offset 183,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
“Additionally, the plant fosters socioeconomic development locally through the participation of a high number of local companies. Likewise, inclusion of local community members in the shareholding structure of the project, represented under the Khi Community Trust, serves as guarantee for long-term continuity of its positive impact,” the power firm added.
Expanding thermal power locally
Abengoa, IDC and the Kaxu Community Trust have also completed the first year of operation of the 100MW parabolic trough power plant Kaxu Solar One, the first solar thermal plant in South Africa.
“Adjacent to Kaxu Solar One, Abengoa, IDC, KaXu Community Trust and PIC are currently developing another 100MW parabolic trough plant, Xina Solar One, which incorporates a five-hour storage system,” the firm concluded.
In March 2015, Xina secured $660 million (ZAR8 billion) non-recourse project financing agreements from the African Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, Industrial Development Corporation and the Development Bank of Southern Africa.
Domestic investment banks were also a part of the financing consortium including Absa, a member of Barclays, Nedbank and Rand Merchant Bank, a division of FirstRand Bank.
A 20-year power purchase agreement was signed in 2014 stipulating that the power plant will provide clean power to state-owned utility Eskom.