Spanish engineering and technology group SENER and EPC/turnkey projects company ACCIONA Industrial have achieved the first synchronization in the Kathu Solar Park in South Africa when electricity was generated and transferred on the National grid.
The Kathu Solar Park CSP Plant features a molten salt storage system, which will allow the plant to produce power for 4.5 hours in absence of solar radiation.
The power plant will also use SENERtrough-2 collectors, a parabolic trough technology designed and patented by SENER, which will improve the plant’s efficiency.
The plant will provide clean and reliable energy to 179,000 homes.
SENER Southern Africa regional managing director Siyabonga Mbanjwa said: “With the successful first synchronization at Kathu Solar Park we are heading into the final stages of the construction and commissioning phase of the project that will ultimately reach the COD (commercial operation date) for the plant in the next couple of months.
“Once fully operational, the plant will provide clean energy to the local community of the John Taole District Municipality, the Northern Cape Province and South Africa as a whole.
“The use of molten salt as thermal energy storage system will allow Kathu Solar Park to operate in a cost-effective manner, storing the generated energy from the sun, producing and dispatching electricity, in absence of solar radiation, to satisfy South Africa’s peak demand.”
Construction on the unit began in May 2016, and is expected to be completed in early 2019, and 1,200 jobs are being created during this phase.
The Kathu Solar Park is expected to save six million tons of CO2 over 20 years, and promote local economic development through several projects, including a SENER and ACCIONA’s fund of ZAR29,300,000 ($2.1m), managed by Kelebogile Trust.
This will benefit the area around the municipality of John Taolo Gaetsewe in Northern Cape, in addition to subcontracting other services to local businesses.
ACCIONA Industrial project director Francisco García Bueno said: “For the EPC consortium, plant synchronisation is one of the most important final milestones that will enable us to complete a process that began in 2016, and we achieved it with success and the greatest guarantees.
“The participation of local companies in the construction of Kathu, as well as Spanish companies, has been key to reaching this milestone.
“The principle that governs the entire project is that of sustainability in all areas: economic, social and environmental. That is why all activities are planned with the rigour and detail that both Kathu Solar Park and the John Taole District Municipality community demand of us.”