R12bn Kathu Solar Park synchronised to the grid
The 100MW Kathu solar power plant has accomplished its first synchronisation to the national grid.
This was announced yesterday by tech and engineering companies, SENER and ACCIONA Industrial, saying they have reached a critical milestone in the construction project of Kathu Solar Park.
Construction of the R12 billion Kathu Solar Park, located in the Northern Cape, commenced in 2016.
Kathu was awarded preferred bidder in the 3.5 round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme led by the South African Department of Energy.
Yesterday, SENER and ACCIONA revealed that electric power was generated at Kathu and transferred to the grid, complying with all expected parameters to ensure the supply of power starts and end-users consume reliable energy once the plant is operational.
The Kathu Solar Park, which will provide clean and reliable energy to 179 000 homes, is equipped with a molten salt storage system that allows the plant to keep producing electricity for 4.5 hours steadily in absence of solar radiation.
It also guarantees dispatchable energy generation to meet demand. The use of SENERtrough-2 collectors, a parabolic trough technology designed and patented by SENER, will aim at improving efficiency of the plant.
"With the successful first synchronisation 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] in the next couple of months," says Siyabonga Mbanjwa, SENER Southern Africa regional MD.
"Once fully operational, the plant will provide clean energy to the local community of the John Taole District Municipality in the Northern Cape province. 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, as well as producing and dispatching electricity in absence of solar radiation to satisfy South Africa's peak demand.
"At SENER, our aim is to provide the most innovative technology. It is such innovation that enabled SENER to not only provide clean energy but to ensure it is also reliable and sustainable."
Francisco Garc'ia Bueno, project director at ACCIONA Industrial, says: "The 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 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."
Construction on the unit began in 2016, and it is expected to be completed in early 2019, the companies say.
During this phase, they add, around 1 200 jobs have been created.
According to the companies, it is estimated the Kathu Solar Park will save six million tonnes of CO2 over 20 years, and it will foster more local economic development through several projects.
These include a SENER and ACCIONA fund of R29.3 million, managed by Kelebogile Trust, for the local community, which will benefit the area around the municipality of John Taolo Gaetsewe, in addition to subcontracting other services to local businesses.