The Kathu Solar Park promises to deliver 100 MW of power to the South African grid, leveraging Concentrated Solar Power technology with a 4.5 hour storage capacity. Mott MacDonald supplied lender’s technical due diligence to financers of the project.
One of the current difficulties with solar energy generation is that, when the sun is not shining, there is little generation. Besides not delivering energy at night, or when there is cloud or snow cover, the variability of solar energy also makes grid operation more difficult.
One method to tap the sun’s almost unending supply of energy is Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). This method utilises large mirrors that concentrate the solar rays onto a small area which becomes superheated. The area may contain water, in which case it produces steam, but it may also contain various other materials that soak up energy and release it over a period of time – even after the sun has long set.
The Kathu Solar Park project is a planned 100 MW CSP project, located in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province. The project will supply energy while the sun is up, with an energy storage capacity of 4.5 hours. The completed project will supply energy for around 80,000 households in South Africa, while saving six million tones of CO2 over its 20 year power purchase agreement with South African utility, Eskom. The park will require around 1200 people for its construction and offers 70 full time jobs upon completion near the end of 2018.
The project is run by ENGIE, a French multinational electric utility company which owns 48.5% of the project, and a number of South African investors, including SIOC Community Development Trust, the Investec bank, Lereko Metier and the Public Investment Corporation. The project is financed through equity and debt, which is provided by a consortium of South African banks, including Rand Merchant Bank, Nedbank Capital, ABSA Capital, Investec and the Development Bank of South Africa.
The project was recently given the go ahead, winning as preferred bidder in the third round of the South African Department of Energy (DOE)’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPPP). During the financing phase of the project, Mott MacDonald supplied technical, environmental and contract due diligence to lenders of the project. In an ongoing role, the firm will continue to monitor the project’s construction and operations.
Stavros Tassos, Mott MacDonald’s Solar Team Leader, says, “Our role on this successful project provides further evidence of our world-class capability in the CSP sector. We have ongoing roles in all seven of the CSP projects that have been awarded under the REIPPP programme to date and we look forward to the continuing development of the sector in South Africa.”