ACWA Power held a ceremony to commence construction of the Bokpoort concentrated solar power (CSP) independent power producer (IPP) project located in Groblershoop, Northern Cape.

This is the first energy project in South Africa for ACWA Power, a Saudi-based operator of power and desalinated water plants, and is set to add 50 MWe of concentrating solar power to the national grid.

Forming part of South Africa’s Renewable Energy IPP procurement programme (REIPP), the Bokpoort CSP project is being equipped with the largest thermal storage ever adopted for a solar power plant of this class and capacity in the world. The plant thermal storage capacity will be 9.3 hours enabling it to yield a record-high generation in excess of 200 GWh/year well into the night every day throughout the year. This makes CSP the only renewable technology at commercial scale to cover the country’s daily peak demand from 5:00 to 9:00 PM thereby helping to prevent power blackouts.

Mohammed Bin Abdullah Abunayyan, chairman of ACWA Power, stated in his speech at the ground breaking ceremony, “It was only three years ago that ACWA Power decided to expand operations outside of our Saudi Arabian home market. ACWA Power targeted four countries which we believe are the most promising; Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and of course South Africa. We have already started work on three major projects which represent a total of 800 MW in the pipeline and an investment commitment of R4.5 Billion to date. Over the next five years we aim to establish a multi fuel portfolio (coal, gas, hydro, solar and wind) and deliver 4,000 MW over these four countries.”

Bokpoort CSP IPP was the only CSP technology project and one of only 19 renewable energy projects selected by the Department of Energy of South Africa from among 79 bids submitted for the second window of the country’s REIPP.  

In addition to wealth creation within South Africa and the local community via the direct investments in the project company, the participation in construction, operation and maintenance by South African companies with previously disadvantaged community participation; it will also lead to the creation of 900 jobs in South Africa during the peak of the construction period. The Bokpoort CSP IPP will also inject significant socio-economic value into the rural South African economy in the vicinity of the power facility, which is to be located in one of the most underdeveloped areas of the country, by bringing an average yearly contribution of US$2 million of additional investments and creating about 60 permanent employment opportunities during the operational life of the power facility.

ACWA Power is a developer, investor, co-owner and operator of a portfolio of plants with a capacity to generate 15,731 MW of power and produce 2.4 million m3/day of desalinated water. The portfolio has an investment value in excess of US$23 billion and provides employment to more than 2,300 people in eight countries. The company was founded in 2004 as an operator of power generation and desalinated water producing plants in which it has a meaningful economic interest and exercises management control.  ACWA Power was born out of the policy decision by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to increase private sector involvement in the power generation and desalinated water production sectors to include ownership and operation of assets.

The company was incorporated in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a paid-up capital of approx. US$1.5 billion. It is owned by eight Saudi conglomerates along with Sanabil Direct Investment Company (owned by the Public Investment Fund) and the Saudi Public Pensions Agency. From its head office in Saudi Arabia, ACWA Power has already expanded into the GCC, Jordan and Egypt and further afield to Turkey, Morocco, and the southern cone of Africa.