ENGIE, a French multinational electric utility company, has announced that operations on its 100-megawatt (MW) Kathu Solar Park (KSP) in South Africa have begun. The state-of-the-art plant is a green-field Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project with a system that allows for 4.5 hours of thermal energy storage to provide reliable electricity in the absence of solar radiation and during peak demand.
The Kathu site covers approximately 4.5 square kilometers, with 384,000 mirrors. Kathu is the first CSP development for ENGIE, which boasts a turnover of 65 billion Euros as at 2017.
The solar park was awarded under Round 3.5 of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPP), a competitive tender process that was launched to facilitate private sector investment in renewable energy generation.
“The completion of Kathu shows our continued commitment to an economic and environmentally friendly development in South Africa,” said Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE.
“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,” she added.
Kathu will provide clean and reliable energy to 179 000 homes in the local community of the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality, the Northern Cape and South Africa as a whole. It is estimated that the Kathu Solar Park will save six million tons of CO2 over 20 years, and will foster further local economic development through several projects, such as the trust for the benefit of the communities situated in the Northern Cape and sourcing of services from local entrepreneurs.
The KSP shareholders, led by ENGIE, which controls a 48.5% stake, include a group of South African investors comprising SIOC Community Development Trust, Investec Bank, Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital Fund, and its co-investors FMO, the Dutch development bank and DEG, the German investment and development company, and the Public Investment Corporation.