Kathu Solar Park in Northern Cape ready to start supplying Eskom

A solar energy park. Picture: AFP

A solar energy park. Picture: AFP

The plant has also significantly boosted community development in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality in the Northern Cape.

The Kathu Solar Park (KSP) in the Northern Cape is to add an additional 100MW to the Eskom grid daily, providing clean energy to 179 000 more households in the area.

This means that the emission of six million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will be avoided.

Sener regional managing director Siyabonga Mbanjwa said this solar park was unique because it uses concentrated solar power technology. This meant that for five hours after the sun has set, it could still generate energy.

Mbanjwa added that the solar park would connect to the Eskom grid and Eskom will then distribute the electricity.

The extra capacity would also mean that households previously without electricity would now be supplied.

The KSP, which was constructed by Sener and Acciona Industrial, came into commercial operation on January 30 this year. The project is part of the government’s Integrated Resource Programme (IRP) of 2010 that aims to increase the country’s power generation capacity to 86.8GW by 2030, of which 24% will be renewable.

Sener regional managing director in Southern Africa Siyabonga Mbanjwa said: “The use of molten salt as a 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 the absence of solar radiation to satisfy peak demand.”

Acciona Industrial chief operating officer Roberto Felipe said: “This project is technologically cutting-edge.

“The complexity of both engineering and construction is only comparable to large infrastructure projects.”

The KSP created over 1 400 jobs in the area during its construction phase.

Mbanjwa said that now that the plant had been handed over, permanent jobs would be created. These jobs would include those involving maintenance of the plant as well as for the daily operations of the plant.

The thermal power project has also contributed to the economic development of the region by contracting local suppliers.

The plant has also significantly boosted community development in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality, Mbanjwa added.

– OFM News

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