ACCIONA, SENER and TSK built Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant in South Africa has set a new African record for the continuous, round the clock supply of electricity. Within the first month of commercial operation, the newly-inaugurated 50 MW Bokpoort CSP plant, produced electricity for a continuous period of 161 hours, equivalent to almost six days.
CSP technology is considered an intermittent source of power which supplies electricity during daylight hours, when demand is highest. Nevertheless, Bokpoort’s design enables it to continue supplying electricity long after the sun has set thanks to a molten salt energy storage facility that can accumulate 9.3 hours of electricity production, the highest power storage facility on the African continent.
The Bokpoort CSP plant in the Northern Cape Province was built by a joint venture between SENER, ACCIONA, TSK and South Africa’s Crowie. They were awarded the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) project by the Saudi group ACWA Power, the plant’s owner and operator.
Round the clock electricity supply from a solar power plant is a significant milestone for South Africa and for the renewable industry as a whole, as it allows CSP technology to approximate the continuous power supply of conventional technologies such as hydroelectric, thermal or gas-fired power plants.
Ramón Jiménez, CEO of ACCIONA Industrial “ACCIONA has designed and built some of the world’s leading landmark projects over the past 60 years. We are proud of having state-of-the-art technology that allows us to handle any kind of turnkey project, such as Bokpoort, with the maximum guarantee of quality and efficiency. ACCIONA is also proud to be contributing its technology to the development of renewable energy in South Africa.”
Siyabonga Mbanjwa, Regional Director of SENER in Southern Africa: “Today SENER is recognized for the quality and reliability of its solar thermal technological solutions. It is our pride to have been part –together with ACCIONA, TSK and Crowie- of the success of this plant and it is our intention to further contribute to the industrial and sustainable development of the country”.
Nandu Bhula, CEO of Bokpoort CSP plant, added: “Globally the biggest challenge of CSP has been its ability to produce energy consistently long after sunset. The performance of this plant is a clear indication that CSP technology can be used as a base-load capacity option in the same way as conventional power plants.”
In South Africa the country’s daily evening peak demand is from 5 pm to 9 pm and the newly introduced CSP Peak tariff means that developers are encouraged to have thermal storage capacity.
Bokpoort CSP has shown that due to the good design of the plant and the solar radiation available at the site, its 9.3 hours of thermal storage can easily be extended to allow round-the-clock continuous operations.
ACCIONA has built 11 CSP plants around the world totalling 628 MW in capacity. Bokpoort is the fourth CSP plant the Company builds outside Spain. Its construction underscores ACCIONA’s commitment to the development of renewable energy worldwide.
For its part, SENER has three solar thermal plants in South Africa. In these three projects, SENER supplies key technology such as the SENERtrough® parabolic trough collectors and the molten salt storage system, capable of operating in the absence of irradiation and, therefore, of delivering dispatchable electricity to the grid. Present in one of every two CSP plants built around the world, SENER is today recognized as a leading company in solar thermal energy worldwide.