South Africa has opened one of the world’s highest capacity solar-energy plants, the 220,000 MWh per year Bokpoort Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project, in Cape Province.
The $328m project (pictured), which will deliver power to more than 200,000 homes, has been developed by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia's ACWA.
The project was developed as part of the government's Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff (REFIT) Procurement Programme
During the tender process ACWA said that tariffs in their projected plant would be 12% lower than those capped by South Africa’s government.
The Bokpoort CSP plant can store more than nine hours of thermal-storage capacity and operates like a giant rechargeable battery. This makes it one of the world’s largest solar-energy plants in terms of storable electricity.
Chris Ehlers, ACWA’s managing director for the southern Africa region, said R2bn or $126m worth of components for the plant had been sourced in South Africa and that the project had created 1,300 construction jobs.
ACWA said the Northern Cape is one of the top three areas of the world in terms of solar capacity.
The company is expected to begin construction shortly on the 100 MW Redstone CSP Project, also in Northern Cape, and is awaiting the result of tenders for a 300 MW coal-fired plant in Mpumalanga and another 150 MW CSP plant also at Northern Cape.
Meanwhile, South Africa has opened what it calls “a solar-powered airport” in George, a holiday destination in the Western Cape area.
Most of the airport’s energy needs will be supplied through 200 square meters of photovoltaic panels. The site will generate enough power to meet the airport’s daily needs and is expected to increase its capacity in the future.