The !Khi Solar One, Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Project sits 15km south east of Upington on the McTaggarts Camp Farm 453 with a capacity of 50MW net power.
It is an impressive project that has involved the development, financing, procurement, construction, testing, commissioning, operation and maintenance of a green field CSP power plant that utilises a proprietary technology and has played a substantial role in the socioeconomic development of the region.
“This project is supported by the DBSA as part of our goal to bring new technology into the solar sector so we can take advantage of this valuable renewable energy source,” says TP Nchocho, group executive for South African financing at the DBSA.
“It was only one of two solar CSP initiatives submitted to the first round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme to be selected as a preferred bidder and had to undergo a rigorous due diligence process at the DBSA.”
Along with the DBSA, the main sponsors and shareholders of the !Khi Solar One, Concentrated Solar Power Project are Son Rivieren, a 100% subsidiary of Abengoa Solar with 51% ownership, and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) with 29% ownership.
The !Khi Community Trust was given 20% shares in the project company and these were funded by the IDC.
Abengoa SA is a technology company that creates solutions for sustainability in the infrastructure, environmental and energy sectors.
They have applied their proprietary steam receiver tower technology to the facility which is based on the two first commercially operational tower power plants in the world — Abengoa’s PS10 and PS20 in Spain.
“The work that Abengoa is doing, both here and in Europe, is incredible,” says Nchocho.
“What really stands out about their solution is their use of CSP and how it is emerging as a potential base load technology. It doesn’t just dispatch power while the sun is shining, it can store it and release it well into the night. Abengoa has teamed up with a research unit at the University of Barcelona to do continuous research on storage capability and I believe that CSP has the potential to be a strong base load capability in South Africa’s energy mix into the future.”
Supported by the DBSA, the IDC and other development finance institutions the project will contribute to the upliftment of local communities within the Siyanda District Municipality by creating jobs and technical skills transfer to both the youth and the local people.
The local small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) are benefitting from enterprise development programmes and preferential procurement with the !Khi Solar One, Concentrated Solar Power project committing to assisting in the setting up and training of local SMMEs to provide some of the ancillary services required at the plants.
These include security services, catering, landscaping and cleaning services, to name a few. The new technology used by !Khi Solar One, Concentrated Solar Power delivers higher efficiencies due to high concentration factors.
The storage capacity saves thermal energy generated when the sun shines and then utilises this to generate power during periods of cloud cover, and air-cooling is used instead of water to reduce impact on limited water resources.
“The DBSA is passionate about working with projects that are sustainable and encourage socioeconomic development,” says Nchocho.
“More than 1000 jobs have been created in the construction period with 35 full-time positions during the operation phase, plus we are providing student bursaries to give training and study in the disciplines required by a solar facility.”
The contents and photographs in this article were compiled with, paid for and signed off by the Development Bank of Southern Africa. This article forms part of a larger supplement