The ACWA Power Solafrica Bokpoort Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant, one of the major drivers of renewable energy in South Africa, has achieved another significant first, having announced the largest infrastructure refinancing initiative to be implemented in the country.

Project financiers, led by Investec Bank, have concluded the first refinancing transaction for Bokpoort CSP, in South Africa’s pioneering Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) program, marking a new era for growth and opportunity.

The ACWA Power-developed, majority-owned and managed plant achieved commercial operations date (COD) in March 2016, and has since been setting new production records, including the African continental benchmark for 13 days (312 hours) of continuous operations on Oct. 23, 2020 and recently an all-time record for maximum daily production at 1,077 MWh, recorded on Nov. 30, 2020 at a daily load factor of 89.8%.

The R5 billion deal is the largest infrastructure refinancing initiative implemented in South Africa to date. It is particularly significant in the context of the government’s recently gazetted plans to increase the country’s reliance on affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity through solar and other Independent Power Producer (IPP) projects.

Founded in June 2013, ACWA Power Solafrica Bokpoort CSP is a ring-fenced project company, established by ACWA Power, a leading Saudi developer, investor and operator of power generation and desalinated water plants worldwide. Additional shareholders in the project company include the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Solafrica Lereko Investments, the Lereko Metier Solafrica Fund I Trust, Kurisani Solafrica Investment, Solafrica Community Investment Company and Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital Fund.

“Marking an industry first for South Africa and its renewable sector, this refinancing transaction is a demonstration of our capability to collaborate, and create transformative solutions that deliver strong stakeholder value, truly benefitting our partners and the communities within which we operate.

“ACWA Power is firmly committed to leading the energy transition across markets, and we are proud to contribute meaningfully to the social economic development of nations through our mission of reliably and responsibly delivering power and desalinated water at an affordable cost,” said Rajit Nanda, chief portfolio management officer and acting CIO for ACWA Power.

The initial build project attracted approximately R1.4 billion in foreign direct investment into the country, with almost 42% of the total project costs directed to local content and value-add in civil works, reinforcing steel, structure steel, local manufacturing, as well as pre-assembly and on-site assembling.

The refinancing transaction also extends the socio-economic and community impact of this greenfield project, which created roughly 1,300 jobs during the peak construction period and now employs 61 permanent staff during operations

Located in the Northern Cape Province to maximize the country’s enviable solar resources, the 50 MW plant was one of the first CSP projects awarded under the REIPPP program, and includes 1,300MWht of molten salt thermal energy storage capacity, making it one of the biggest storage facilities of all CSP plants in South Africa. The project operates on a 20-year PPA with Eskom, consistently producing electricity to meet South Africa’s peak demand periods in support of the grid.

Bokpoort CSP is one of ACWA Power’s flagship projects in the African continent, and testament to the company’s commitment to being at the forefront of the energy transition and providing transformative solutions, including the early adoption of technologies to deliver power and water reliably and responsibly.