JSE-listed Group Five is studying a concentrated solar power (CSP) project near Kathu, in the Northern Cape, which could produce as much as 600 MW of electricity, a company official said on Friday.
A public meeting regarding the proposed Kalahari CSP project would be held on Tuesday, at the Sishen Golf Club, which interested and affected parties could attend.
The public meeting formed part of the scoping phase of the environmental-impact assessment, which was being conducted by engineering consultancy WSP Environmental.
The proposed CSP plant would be situated on a 1 600-ha farm some 10 km north of the town of Kathu.
Group Five said that it proposed to develop the parabolic trough project in four stages, each stage producing between 125 MW and 150 MW.
There would also be space to accommodate 25 MW of solar photovoltaic electricity generators.
Group Five renewable energy project developer Chris Carnegie explained that the company was still in the early days of investigating the project, and was engaging with stakeholders, on what was considered a “very exciting” project.
It was expected that the pre-feasibility study would be complete in September, once the draft scoping report was completed, and had been made available for public review for 30 days.
The CSP project would require a suitable grid connection to link the power to the national grid. The Eskom Ferrum substation was close to the site, and a transmission line between the two may need to be constructed.
Group Five has done a concept study for the Kalahari CSP project, which included a site assessment, using various criteria to select the preferred site from several alternative sites that were considered.
The issues that were earmarked as potentially relevant for stakeholders were: water supply; air quality or dust contamination; housing, accommodation and labour; and safety and security.
A weather station has been erected on site, which would supplement satellite data, which would be required to take the project to a bankable phase.
The solar resource map of South Africa has shown that the Northern Cape region has a high concentration of solar energy, and ranks among the best solar regions in the world.
The Kalahari CSP project was described as having the potential to make a significant contribution to electricity stabilisation, thus improving the reserve margin of electricity generation capacity in South Africa, as well as reducing transmission losses, and the likelihood of load shedding.
Currently, the largest CSP plant, at 100 MW, is operational in Spain, while CSP plants in the region of 250 MW were under development in the US.