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A long row of CSP solar panels at Kathu solar park, South Africa Kathu CSP solar park once it has been completed A giraffe grazing in Kruger national park, South Africa Workman constructing part of the solar power system at Kathu solar park

Long into the night

It’s a dilemma faced by all countries seeking to increase the amount of solar power in their generation mix: demand typically peaks at sunset when the sun’s energy is fading. But there are solutions.

Investor consortium (Investec, RMB, Old Mutual Specialised Finance, Futuregrowth, Nedbank, DBSA, ABSA, STANLIB), lead developer Engie, and engineerprocure-construct consortium of Sener and Acciona
Solar energy consultant, lenders’ technical advisor, due diligence

Concentrated solar power (CSP) harnesses the sun’s heat to generate steam which in turn drives generator turbines. Thermal energy can be stored and released for power generation after the sun sets.

The award-winning 100MW Kathu Solar Park project in South Africa gathers solar heat using an array of parabolic mirrors. Heat is transferred into a molten salt reservoir that operates like a battery. Heat released can keep power generation going for 4.5 hours.

Kathu was connected to the grid at the end of 2018, providing more than 179,000 homes with electricity. By providing an alternative to coal- or gas-fired power generation after dark, it has avoided about 300,000t of CO₂ a year.

The project also generated jobs – 1400 during construction and 80 permanent roles for the local community, which has high unemployment. A trust has been established to share the revenue from the project with local people.



African renewables project of the year

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