The Department of Economic Development, together with Spanish solar company Abengoa and the Industrial Development Corporation on Monday launched a 100 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) park, about 60 km outside Pofadder, in the Northern Cape.
Speaking to journalists at the launch of the R7.9-billion KaXu Solar One park, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said the park would provide much-needed energy to the national electricity grid, helping to relieve the current 4 000 MW shortage the country was experiencing.
“This is the largest [CSP] plant on the African continent, as well as in the southern hemisphere. [These renewable-energy programmes] ensure that we deal with the energy crisis and reduce load shedding, to provide a predictable source of energy to every South African home,” he added.
The Minister further noted that the plant’s energy would feed the “most important sectors” of the economy, including industrial, construction, manufacturing and mining.
“Tonight, when South Africans put on a light, or switch on a television or switch on the stove, [the energy] will, in some part, come from the plant,” Patel said, adding that the plant could provide enough energy to meet the demand for electricity by 80 000 households, or 400 000 South Africans.
He noted that this was the combined yearly energy needs of Mosselbay, Oudtshoorn, Knysna and Swellendam.
The plant, which took about two years to build, was 3 km long, 1 km wide and contained 1 200 collectors – each containing ten modules, built from glass mirrors and aluminium. In total, the plant had 336 000 mirrors.
Speaking to Engineering News Online, Abengoa plant manager Sergio Olivier said the mirrors created direct radiation, which multiplied the sun’s energy by 40 times.
Abengoa Solar CEO Armando Zuluaga told delegates that the launch was “the end of a long journey that took us over six years” and that the facility would not exist without the “strong” Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme launched by South Africa.
“KaXu Solar One [will], for the next 20 years, [provide] carbon-free energy to the grid,” he added.
Abengoa held a 51% interest in the project.