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13 April 2015

Sub-Saharan Africa’s first CSP plant becomes operational, South Africa

The US$860 million KaXu Solar One concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in Pofadder, South Africa has become the first in Sub-Saharan Africa to enter operation. Mott MacDonald was lenders’ technical advisor during the project’s financing and construction and is now monitoring operations in an ongoing role.

Awarded during the first round of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer (REIPPP) programme, the 100MW KaXu plant is capable of producing enough energy to serve over 80,000 households and will prevent the emission of 300,000 tons of CO2 every year. The plant, which is one of the largest in the world, also includes a 2.5-hour thermal energy storage system to assist in meeting evening peak demand.

Mott MacDonald helped the project achieve financial close in 2012 by undertaking technical, environmental, social and permitting reviews and solar resource, energy yield and site assessments. The consultancy also reviewed the project’s financial model and implementation schedule, as well as power purchase agreement and engineering, procurement & construction and operation & maintenance contracts. During construction, Mott MacDonald monitored the plant’s progress against the baseline construction schedule by undertaking regular site visits, signing off on drawdown requests and reviewing variation proposals.

Stavros Tassos, Mott MacDonald’s project director, said: “Being the first CSP plant to enter commercial operation in the country, KaXu is already playing a key role in helping the South African government achieve its goal of introducing up to 17,800MW of renewable energy by 2030.”

“Mott MacDonald is a market leader for CSP technology around the world. To date, we have supported lenders on five of the seven CSP projects that have been successful under the country’s REIPPP programme, including the Xina plant also in Pofadder where we are currently monitoring construction,” Stavros added.

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