Leading renewable-energy group Abengoa, of Spain, reports that it has started construction on two solar power projects in South Africa, following the signing on Monday of agreements enabling independent power producers to proceed with the country’s first large-scale renewable-energy projects.
Abengoa is developing the 50 MW Khi Solar One power-tower concentrating solar power (CSP) project, near Upington, in the Northern Cape, as well as a 100 MW parabolic trough CSP plant, dubbed KaXu Solar One, which will be situated near Pofadder, also in the sun-drenched Northern Cape province.
Abengoa currently has 743 MW of installed solar capacity around the world and 910 MW under construction, and the Khi Solar One plant will be only the group’s third commercial power tower and its first outside of Spain.
Both developments signed long-term power purchase and implementation agreements with Eskom and the Department of Energy respectively on November 5, having been named as preferred projects along with 26 other wind and solar bidders in December last year.
Collectively the 28 projects selected during the first bid window of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme represent an investment value of around R47-billion and wind and solar capacity of around 1 415 MW.
The Abengoa projects, which are expected to be operational during 2016, are the only CSP projects selected during the first bidding phase and the documentation released following their selection indicates total costs of R11.4-billion for the development of the two projects.
The Seville-domiciled group is partnering with the State-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), and will build, operate and maintain the plants – Abengoa owns 51% of the project, the IDC 29%, while black economic–empowerment entities own the 20% balance.
Both Khi Solar One and KaXu Solar One will employ dry-cooling technology, to reduce water consumption and will incorporate storage capacity – about two hours in the case of Khi and three hours for KaXu.
The Madrid-listed group says the projects would reduce South Africa’s yearly carbon dioxide emissions by about 498 000 t and will create about 1 400 local construction jobs and 70 permanent operational jobs.