The Kathu Solar Park in the Northern Cape has successfully completed its first synchronisation of power to the national grid.
On 18 November, electric power was generated and transferred on the national grid, complying with all expected parameters to ensure the supply of power starts and end-users can consume reliable energy once the plant is operational.
The solar plant, which covers 4.5 square kilometres, uses patented parabolic trough technology, with curved solar panels tracking the sun’s movement, storing the energy in a molten salt storage system that will allow the plant to keep producing electricity 4.5 hours steadily in absence of solar radiation.
The Kathu project secured R12 billion in financing when construction began in May 2016, with the build expected to be completed in early 2019.
During this phase, around 1,200 jobs were created. It is estimated that the Kathu Solar Park will save six million tons of CO2 over 20 years.
“With the successful first synchronisation at Kathu Solar Park we are heading into the final stages of the construction and commissioning phase of the project that will ultimately reach the commercial operation date for the plant in the next couple of months,” said Siyabonga Mbanjwa, SENER Southern Africa Regional MD.
Electrical engineer, and energy analyst, Chris Yelland, highlighted the scale of the project in a series of Tweets.
Stunning pictures! The 100 MW Kathu concentrating solar power plant with 4,5 hour molten salt energy storage system was synchronised to the @Eskom_SA grid on 18 Nov 2018. Construction on the CSP began in May 2016, and it is expected to be completed in early 2019. pic.twitter.com/JqGLBgHs59
— Chris Yelland (@chrisyelland) November 27, 2018
Once operational, the plant will provide clean energy to the local community of the John Taole District Municipality, the Northern Cape Province and South Africa as a whole.
The park is expected to operate for 30 years, with a 100MW capacity delivering a projected 390GWh per year – enough to run almost 180,000 households.