One of South Africa’s biggest renewable energy projects – a R12 billion solar farm – is now live

French energy and services group, ENGIE says that it has achieved commercial operation of a 100 MW solar plant in the Northern Cape – one of South Africa’s largest renewable energy projects.

The solar plant, which covers 4.5 square kilometres, with 384,000 mirrors, 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 project secured R12 billion in financing when construction began in May 2016, creating around 1,200 jobs.

Kathu will provide clean and reliable energy to 179,000 homes in the local community of the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality, the Northern Cape and South Africa as a whole. In addition to this, it is estimated that the Kathu Solar Park will save six million tons of CO2 over 20 years.

“The completion of Kathu shows our continued commitment to an economic and environmentally friendly development in South Africa. Kathu with its molten salt storage design offers a clean solution to overcome the intermittency of renewable energies,” said Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE.

“We are proud to contribute to the country’s renewable energy goals, and look forward to continuing the projects initiated with local communities making Kathu a genuine driver of regional economic development.”

Electrical engineer, and energy analyst, Chris Yelland, highlighted the scale of the project in a series of Tweets towards the end of last year.


Read: Cape Town wants residents to ditch Eskom and go solar – here’s how it could work and who will pay for it

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One of South Africa’s biggest renewable energy projects – a R12 billion solar farm – is now live