Abengoa Solar announced yesterday (Aug. 26) that it completed construction of its first solar tower—if not the first solar tower—in South Africa. The Khi Solar One tower is a 50 megawatt concentrating solar power projects that will include 2 hours of thermal energy storage when completed.
Given that South Africa started announcing projects in 2011, the pace at which the tower went up is far faster than in the U.S. where projects like BrightSources’ 392 megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station and Abengoa’s 280 megawatt Solana project—a solar trough project rather than a solar tower—are slated for completion this August. Solana was originally supposed to come online in 2011 and Ivanpah was also originally supposed to come online earlier.
For the project in North Cape, South Africa, Abengoa partnered with South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Khi Community Trust. “This achievement marks an important milestone in the execution of this project, a significant development for CSP tower technology itself, as well as a strong positive impact on the community and the country,” Abengoa said.
Khi Solar One is a 205 meter-tall superheated steam solar tower and uses higher temperatures and a dry cooling system, according to Abengoa. “This advancement is the result of the R&D work done by Abengoa in its research centers and pilot plants,” it said.
Khi and its sister plant, the 100 megawatt KaXu Solar One, which uses parabolic trough technology, like the Solana plant that’s being developed in Arizona. The company said the projects will be the first CSP plants in operation in South Africa. However many other companies are building out giant solar projects in South Africa right now as well. For instance, SolarReserve announced in December 2011 that it was working with Kensani Group and Intikon Energy to build two 75-megawatt PV plants in South Africa and construction on those projects was set to begin in June 2012.
South Africa has plans to install more than 3.7 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2016 and much more, 17.8 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030 as it tries to become energy independent and stop running polluting generators to meet its growing energy needs. As such South Africa and other African countries are starting to emerge as more important markets for solar companies across the globe.
Spanish-based Abengoa has installed 21 plants across the world and is already producing 843 megawatts and it has another 810 megawatts of projects under construction.