6 August 2013 – With two concentrated solar power (CSP) projects under construction in South Africa from the first round of its renewable energy independent power producer programme (REIPPP), the country’s third CSP project, which was awarded in the second round of the REIPPP has also entered the construction phase.

A consortium led by Saudi Arabia based ACWA Power International, and including the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) of South Africa, Lereko Solafrica Investment, Lereko Metier Solafrica Fund 1, Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital Fund, Kurisani Solafrica Investments (representing the National NGO Lovelife) and Solafrica Community Investment Company has confirmed the completion of financing and commencement of construction of the Bokpoort CSP project in the Northern Cape.  

The 50 MWe installed capacity Bokpoort project is being equipped with the largest thermal storage ever adopted for a solar power plant of this class and capacity to date. The plant thermal storage capacity will be 9.3 hours enabling it to yield a record-high generation in excess of 200 GWh/year well into the night every day throughout the year. This makes CSP the only renewable technology at commercial scale to cover the country’s daily peak demand from 5:00 to 9:00 PM thereby helping to prevent power black outs.

The Bokpoort CSP IPP was the only CSP technology project and one of 19 projects selected by the Department of Energy of South Africa from among 79 bids submitted for the second window of the country’s REIPPP.  

The construction is being undertaken by a consortium of EPC contractors composed of TSK Electrónica y Electricidad, Acciona Infrastructuras, Acciona Ingeniería, Sener Ingeniería y Sistemas, all from Spain, and Crowie Concessions of South Africa. The construction of the power facility will utilise more than 40% of scope procured locally in South Africa. The operation and maintenance will be undertaken by a consortium led by Nomac, a subsidiary of ACWA Power and Invest in Africa Energy Services, a South African services provider.  The off-taker of the produced electricity will be Eskom.

The Bokpoort CSP IPP has partnered with Investec Bank and Absa Bank as mandated lead arrangers to the project and who together with Old Mutual Specialised Finance are providing the senior debt funding requirements of the project.

In addition to wealth creation within South Africa and the local community via the direct investments in the project company, the participation in both construction and in operation and maintenance by South African companies with previously disadvantaged community participation; it will lead to the creation of 900 jobs in South Africa during the peak of the construction period. The Bokpoort CSP IPP will also inject significant socio-economic value into the rural South African economy in the vicinity of the power facility, which is to be located in one of the most under developed areas of the country, by bringing an average yearly contribution of US$2 million of additional investments and creating about 60 permanent employment opportunities during the operational life of the power facility and through the sharing of return on the investment being made via the 5% local community trust shareholding.  

Whilst South Africa relies heavily on coal to meet its energy needs, the country is well-endowed with renewable energy resources that offer sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels.  With the CSP technology to be used, the Bokpoort CSP IPP will provide electricity to approximately 21,000 households and save approximately 230,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions during every year of operation.

Paddy Padmanathan, president and CEO of ACWA Power stated, “While ACWA Power is a provider of electricity and desalinated water and is thus fuel agnostic, it is very fitting that our entry into the southern African market should be via a renewable project and such a pace setting project as this with the volume of storage to deliver reliable solar power generated electricity even during the night time peak."