South Africa celebrates 100MW Concentrated Solar Power Ilanga 1 grid-connected plant

South Africa celebrates the first year of operation of the Concentrated Solar Power plant Ilanga 1, which has been supplying clean energy to the national grid since November 2018.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor partners, a consortium between COBRA, SENER and EMVELO, the owner (Karoshoek Solar One, an IPP), the lenders and other key project partners, launched the impressive solar power plant just outside Upington.

This unique Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant contributes 100MWe of on-demand power that is clean, sustainable and reliable.

The solar thermal power plant has no fuel costs nor emits harmful emissions ensuring a low carbon footprint. It is equipped with a patented molten salt storage system that allows five hours of energy storage, enabling the plant to continue producing electricity in the absence of sunlight.

The commissioning of this plant by the EPC contractor has not only brought light and power but has created employment opportunities for local residents in Upington and surrounding areas.

The EPC partners attained commercial operation of the turnkey solar thermal power plant project in November 2018, within the date scheduled under the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed between Karoshoek and Eskom.

The plant has and continues to make a considerable impact on the national grid by supplying electricity to the country through Eskom, the national electricity public utility. This project is an example of a success of Government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). With the current pressure on supply, this addition to the grid is especially welcomed.

“This project idea for Ilanga 1 was conceptualised in 2009, before the IPP Programme was launched, by our local partner EMVELO with the support of some of the key players in South African industry development, IDC and DBSA. COBRA entered into an agreement with these partners for co-developing the project.

«Our technological partner SENER was incorporated into the consortium forming the design, supply and construction of the plant. In the end, the combination of technology know-how, construction background and local expertise provided the consortium with the resources to make the project a success story,» said Pedro J. Cuevas, chairman of the EPC consortium, and representative for COBRA in Africa. “We believe that the economic impact of this project has exceeded the expectations of all the parties involved.”

“This is a historic moment in South Africa’s energy transition as another renewable energy power plant supplying reliable and sustainable energy, is operating with a noteworthy set of results and achievements.

«Providing energy for around 100,000 homes while saving 90,000 tonnes of CO2 each year over 20 years is a considerable achievement. It is hence, undoubtably that solar energy has a huge role to play in South Africa. This project represents a historic landmark in showcasing the results that the renewable sector can achieve and the possibilities which exist particularly, when our climate realities are taken into account and when selecting energy sources for the country and continent,” said Siyabonga Mbanjwa, regional managing director for SENER Southern Africa.

“Alongside our contribution to securing power, we are also satisfied with the societal impact of developing South Africa’s first black-developed CSP power plant, the resulting skills development, job creation and the localisation this project rendered. Beyond the expected energy impact, we continue to combine the provision of power, with positive social and environmental outcomes,” said Mbanjwa.