ABB to partner development of concentrating solar thermal power plants in South Africa

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has signed an agreement with FG Emvelo, an independent solar power plant company, to develop high-efficiency concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) plants at Karoshoek Solar Valley in Northern Cape province, South Africa.

FG Emvelo, a joint venture between, a German group of companies and Emvelo Projects, a pan-African company, with headquarters in Johannesburg, recently acquired a 340 square kilometer site with high DNI (direct normal irradiance). The solar thermal plants will use the highly efficient and cost-effective ABB-Novatec Solar turnkey concept for concentrated solar power plants which reduces the need for land by 40 percent and water consumption by 80 percent. Novatec Solar is a German CSP technology company in which ABB recently acquired a 35 percent investment stake.

The efficiency is achieved through a patented solar boiler for direct steam generation based on innovative linear Fresnel technology. The collectors use flat glass mirrors to reflect solar energy onto a receiver in which water is vaporized directly to produce superheated steam at temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius. The direct steam technology operates without thermo oil or any other toxic heat transfer medium. Differentiating benefits of the concept include the automated mass production of key components in local production facilities, a fast and accurate assembly process, highly efficient land use, and a robotic cleaning system that uses very little water.

"We are delighted to partner in this development" said Franz-Josef Mengede, head of ABB’s global power generation business within the Power Systems division. "It confirms the growing appeal of our high-efficiency turnkey concept for concentrating solar power plants."

"We are proud to announce the start of a new strategic partnership with ABB and Novatec Solar," said Florian Fritsch, managing director of FG Emvelo. "With their collaboration, and the use of linear Fresnel technology, we will be able to take significant steps towards achieving our goal of a ‘solar Silicon Valley’ at Karoshoek."

ABB recently completed the turnkey delivery of South Africa’s first photovoltaic power plants for Eskom, the national energy company.

ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 130,000 people.