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Solar plant

Advances in tower technology

The landmark 50MW Khi One concentrated solar power (CSP) plant is based on super-heated steam tower technology with thermal energy storage.

ClientInternational Finance Corporation
leading a group of lenders including the Development Bank of South Africa /
European Investment Bank /
Industrial Development Corporation /
Clean Technology Fund /
Proparco / FMO
ExpertiseLender's technical advisor

Located in Upington, Northern Cape province, South Africa, Khi One Solar is the first solar tower plant in Africa; and also the first to achieve 24 hours of operation using solar energy only. It aims to prevent 183,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Opportunity

The project represents crucial technological advances in efficiency, using higher temperatures during the generation process, while doubling the capacity of the previous technology generation. This was made possible as a result of the latest advances in solar tower technology using super-heated steam.

While the technological advances represented important engineering feats and benefits for the solar industry overall, they also posed challenges when it came to pursuing traditional project financing.

Our role was to assess potential risks for the timely completion and operation of the plant.

Solution

We conducted full due diligence, addressing technical challenges and assisting the project to successful financial close. The sheer scale of the project required close collaboration with many key stakeholders.

During the due diligence process, we reviewed and advised the lenders on the appropriateness and robustness of innovative proprietary technologies to be implemented. We assessed projected project performance and suitability of contractual arrangements and provided suggestions for compliance with international standards.

We tackled each of the identified technology risks and conducted all investigations to provide the lenders with the right level of comfort required to finance the project.

Outcome

Khi Solar One is a landmark project for the solar industry as well as the African continent. It will sell electricity to the state-owned utility, Eskom, under a 20-year power purchase agreement, delivering much needed clean, sustainable and reliable power to the South African grid.

Our extensive experience in advising international and local lenders and project sponsors under the requirements of the South African government's renewable energy programme was instrumental to achieving financing on time, along with our ability to provide multidisciplinary expertise covering technical and non-technical needs.

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