Saudi Arabian renewable energy developer Acwa Power has said it will begin construction this year on a 100MW solar energy plant in South Africa following initial delays.
The announcement follows the visit of the South African president Cyril Ramaphosa to Saudi last week where he secured a commitment to $10bn of investment from Saudi Arabia for South Africa’s ailing energy sector.
The 100MW Redstone concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) plant, whose construction had initially been scheduled to commence in 2017, will be located in the country’s Northern Cape Province and will be capable of supplying power to 210,000 homes once operational.
Under the terms of the agreement the Central Energy Fund of South Africa and ACWA Power, a leading Saudi Arabian developer, owner, and operator of power generation and water desalination plants will cooperate on the project.
“We are pleased to enter into this agreement, which further strengthens our efforts supporting South Africa’s renewable energy program. We are committed to providing the country with the most advanced and versatile solar technology solutions which can efficiently and reliably produce clean energy throughout the 24 hour period if called upon to do so," said Mohammad Abunayyan, chairman of ACWA Power.
This will be ACWA Power’s second CSP investment in South Africa. In 2016, the group launched the 50MW Bokpoort CSP plant in the Northern Cape to boost power supply.
ACWA Power operates the CSP plant which is boosted by its 1300 MWh molten salt energy storage facility that provides 9.3 hours of thermal storage, the highest on the African continent.
South Africa currently derives much of its power-generation from coal but is also dependent on imported oil. Saudi Arabia is its biggest supplier of crude, accounting for around 47 percent of its requirement.
Industry experts have observed that the success of the Bokpoort operation and the application of new technology have proven that commercial scale CSP plants with adequate storage are a valuable and efficient contributor to the future energy needs of South Africa under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme.
As part of his efforts to revive a flagging economy after taking over from Jacob Zuma as South Africa’s leader in February, President Ramaphosa also visited Abu Dhabi on Friday as part of his Middle East tour.
Following the visit, the UAE announced plans for $10bn worth of investments into Africa's second biggest economy, official news agency Wam said, without giving further details.