Tapping into a lucrative South African concentrated solar power market

After a long period, South Africa’s renewable energy sector has received a solar powered shot in the arm. In what local bankers are calling the most exciting time in project finance for a decade, multiple new solar energy and wind power developments valued at R50 billion ($6 billion) are going forward.

On 7th to 8th February over 150Concentrating Solar Thermal Power professionals from Europe, USA and South Africa will be meeting at the 1st Concentrated Solar Thermal Summit South Africa. South African national and international CSP stakeholders will all be represented, including developers, Abengoa Solar, BrightSource Energy, Solar Reserve and Torresol. They will be joined by the industry leading EPC ACS Cobra, and suppliers such as Siemens, Areva, Novatec Solar and ABB that have been involved in the engineering, supply and construction of the CSP plants around the world.

With 1000MW of CSP generated power expected for South Africa, and the second round of CSP bidding commencing on 5th March 2012, the top of many developer’s minds is about getting in place all the paperwork needed to qualify and submit a bid that could win the 200MW CSP allocation. In the midst of this tense time, CSP developers and their technology partners will be presenting their plans at the 1st Concentrated Solar Thermal Summit South Africa, providing insight into the evolution of the CSP market since the IPP process opened in August 2011 and a preview of upcoming projects.

Generally, developing countries have overtaken developed ones in the growth of renewable projects, and the South African region is a key market. The South African market has been cemented as a high potential country for new business opportunities while other markets remain in a state of flux. The biggest milestone for the market was when Abengoa were awarded 2 CSP projects, leading the way for the industry and attracting more attention to this booming market. Michael Geyer, Director – International Business Development is scheduled to speak for the first time publically on the 50 MW Khi Solar One plant and the 100 MW KaXu projects.

Most recently Edwin Koot, CEO of SolarPlaza, stated that investing in solar energy can be very lucrative – as South Africa is beset with persistent energy shortage and a massive carbon footprint. "And let’s not forget the declining prices of solar energy," he notes. "Over the past five years, solar energy prices have come down by 70%." It is impossible to estimate what will happen to the price of coal in the future. When coal price goes up, it will affect the price of electricity. "That is why investing in solar, especially in South Africa, makes a lot of sense," Koot said.

There is so much anticipated potential for the South African solar market, making it an exciting and lucrative time. The aim of the 1st Concentrated Solar Thermal Summit South Africa is to help business navigate the IPP market to build a successful & productive CSP business in South Africa.