ACWA Power inks contract to build solar plant in South Africa

The solar energy facility will generate enough clean electricity to power 210,000 homes in the African country

ACWA Power's Paddy Padmanathan said the CSP plant will try to minimise water consumption.
ACWA Power's Paddy Padmanathan said the CSP plant will try to minimise water consumption.

Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power has signed a deal with Central Energy Fund to build renewable energy complexes in South Africa.

The project will be a 100MW solar power plant called Redstone CSP, and its construction will begin this year.

Located in the Northern Cape, the concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) plant will produce clean energy for 210,000 South African homes.

ACWA Power said its projects in South Africa would create thousands of jobs in the country.

READ: Saudi Crown Prince-led PIF acquires 15.2% stake in ACWA Power

It will be built with solar energy storage technology that can ensure electricity is generated day and night, cumulatively delivering approximately 480,000 MW/h per year. 

With 12 hours of thermal storage capacity thanks to molten salt technology, the plant will generate electricity even during peak evening periods because it will store solar thermal power during the day.

Water scarcity is a major issue in South Africa, and ACWA Power and Central Energy Fund have addressed this issue in the project design by pledging to use dry cooling systems, which keeps water in a contained space rather than evaporating it, to minimise water waste.

The complex will be built with a CSP central tower that captures sunlight. Using this design will help the plant generate competitively priced electricity compared to other forms of renewable energy that cannot serve evening peak demand unless they are linked to "extremely expensive" utility scale batteries, ACWA Power said in a statement.

An agreement with Central Energy Fund was signed during South African president Cyril Ramaphosa's state visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Central Energy Fund's acting group chief executive officer, Godfrey Moagi, signed the agreement, the signing ceremony for which was witnessed by HE Mohamed Al-Jadaan, the Saudi Minister of Finance; HE Majed Al Qassabi, the kingdom's Minister of Commerce and Investment; and HE Ahmed Qattan, Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for African Affairs.

ACWA Power’s chairman, Mohamed Abunayyan, and president and chief executive officer, Paddy Padmanathan, also attended.

Padmanathan said: "With capital and operating cost of CSP plants with molten salt storage solution reducing at the same time as demand for cost competitive renewable energy increases in South Africa, our Redstone CSP plant will be able to deliver stable cost competitive electricity supply to more than 210,000 South African homes during peak demand periods which are during the night.

"CSP technology will allow power generation well after sun set and does not require back up fuel. Recognising the scarcity of water, the plant we will install will utilize the dry cooling option thus minimising water use, which also makes it one of the most appealing renewable energy options available in the world."

Abunayyan added: "As efficient means of meeting rising energy demand is crucial for enabling economic growth, we will continue to explore opportunities to increase production capacity and keep challenging costs to help the country meet its requirements.

"Our projects in the country have, and will, also tangibly contribute towards empowering the previously marginalised population of South Africa and support socio-economic development through thousands of jobs being created over the coming decades."

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