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NC solar park comes to life


The Kathu site covers approximately 4.5 square kilometres (km2), with 384 000 mirrors

File image.

THE 100MW Kathu Solar Park, situated in the Northern Cape, has commenced commercial operation.

The Kathu Solar Park, constructed by SENER, ACCIONA Industrial and ENGIE, came into commercial operation on January 30 this year.

With an installed capacity of 100MW, it will allow clean energy to be supplied to 179 000 homes in the Northern Cape and prevent the emission of six million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere over the next 20 years.

The plant is a greenfield Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project and incorporates parabolic trough collectors and a molten salt storage system that enables heat from the solar park to be stored and electricity to be generated in the absence of solar radiation.

This molten salt storage system, which provides up to five hours of power generation, extends the operational capacity of the plant after sundown and on cloudy days.

The Kathu site covers approximately 4.5 square kilometres (km2), with 384 000 mirrors.

“With the completion of Kathu Solar Park, we show our firm commitment to the development of a renewable energy industry in South Africa. Concentrated solar power, as a viable alternative to traditional baseload sources of energy, has a demonstrated alignment with South Africa’s national agenda of achieving inclusive growth that includes job creation manufacturing, construction and rural development. Reaching commercial operation at Kathu means that the energy supply to the local community is secure and demand is well managed while contributing to mitigate the effects of climate change,” Siyabonga Mbanjwa, regional managing director of SENER Southern Africa, stated.

“At ACCIONA we are committed to renewable energies, and in particular to CSP energy. The execution of the Kathu Solar Park plant has been a success for performance objectives thanks to the excellent team involved in the project, and also for the impact it has had on the economy and population in the Province of the Northern Cape in South Africa. This has been made possible thanks to the excellent relationship with local administrations and businesses, and with Kathu Solar Park, our client. In addition, this plant becomes our second project in the region along with the Bokpoort solar thermal plant, which consolidates us in the renewable energy market in the country,” Roberto Felipe, director of operations and production at ACCIONA Industrial, stated.

“The completion of Kathu shows our continued commitment to an economic and environmentally friendly development in South Africa. Kathu with its molten salt storage design offers a clean solution to overcome the intermittency of renewable energies. We are proud to contribute to the country’s renewable energy goals, and look forward to continuing the projects initiated with local communities, making Kathu a genuine driver of regional economic development,” Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE, said.

– Norma Wildenboer