Solar Energy Africa: Focus on Concentrated Solar Power

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) on its own is probably the most promising of large-scale renewable energy technologies in South Africa, says Kadri Nassiep, CEO of the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI).

Mr Nassiep is a headline speaker at the upcoming Solar Energy Africa as part of the Clean Power Africa conference and exhibition in Cape Town in September, where he will address the potential for CSP to be incorporated into South Africa’s coalfired plants. According to Mr Nassiep there is a definite opportunity to consider steam augmentation of a coal-fired power plant using CSP. He explains: “With the reduction in coal consumption there is the added benefit of reducing overall plant costs due to shared components. The use of CSP extends to other aspects of electricity production including supporting the cooling cycle of the water used in power production.”

According to the SANEDI CEO, CSP will allow South Africa to continue using coal in the case of steam augmentation plants. He continues: “This will benefit the coal mining industry in terms of jobs retained or created. CSP’s promise lies not only in the size and reliability of plants, but also in the capacity to store heat and use this heat during off-sun periods of the day. CSP may well be the closest to a base load power plant that renewable energies can provide for, without the costs becoming uneconomically high.”

Position South Africa as pioneer
He says it is too early to quote success stories but that for SANEDI, “the opportunity lies in positioning South Africa as a pioneer in this field, possibly leading to further innovative solutions. Such was the case with dry cooling for Eskom power stations that were located in water scarce regions.”

Says Mr Nassiep: “CSP has a role, not only on its own, as has been seen in the REBID programme, but also as a means of extending the life of the coal-fired plants that could be built in South Africa in the future. The localisation of components will, however, be critical in ensuring the technology thrives, as job creation and economic growth are at the top of the list of priorities for the green economy to succeed.”

South Africa’s Energy Minister Elizabeth Dipuo Peters will welcome delegates at the official networking reception at Clean Power Africa in Cape Town in September which will boast over 600 visitors from across the globe. The event incorporates the fifth edition of the hugely successful Hydropower Africa 2012 conference and exhibition and the second year of Solar Energy Africa.

Event dates and location:
Pre-conference workshops: 3 September
Conference and exhibition: 4-5 September
Site visits: 6 September
Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), South Africa