South African 100 MW solar park goes fully operational


The 100 MW Kathu Solar Park in South Africa has now entered commercial operation.

Built by Spanish companies SENER and Acciona Industrial, the concentrated solar power plant is supplying electricity to 179,000 homes in the Northern Cape Province.

It uses parabolic trough collectors and a molten salt energy storage system that enables heat from the plant to be stored and electricity to be generated in the absence of sunlight.

This molten salt storage system, which provides up to five hours of power generation, extends the operational capacity of the plant after sundown and on cloudy days.

Siyabonga Mbanjwa, Regional Managing Director of SENER Southern Africa stated: “Concentrated solar power, as a viable alternative to traditional baseload sources of energy, has a demonstrated alignment with South Africa’s national agenda of achieving inclusive growth that includes job-creating, manufacturing, construction and rural development.

“Reaching commercial operation at Kathu means that the energy supply to the local community is secure and demand is well managed while contributing to mitigate the effects of climate change”.

The project is part of the South African government’s Integrated Resource Programme 2010, which aims to increase the country’s power generation capacity to 86.8 GW by 2030, of which 24 per cent will be from renewables.

It is the second solar thermal power project jointly developed by SENER and Acciona in South Africa – the first was the 50 MW Bokpoort plant which opened in 2016.