Although the Concentrated Solar Thermal Power (CSP) market is small compared to the wind and PV sectors, CSP may be particularly relevant to the South African market.

Although the Concentrated Solar Thermal Power (CSP) market is small compared to the wind and PV sectors, CSP may be particularly relevant to the South African market, where an analysis by the South African Renewables Initiative estimates that 49% of the value of a Concentrating Solar Power plant could be supplied locally.

With 400 MW of CSP plants under construction and development in South Africa, it is now critical that acceptance tests are carried out efficiently to reduce project risk.

The average daily solar radiation in most African countries makes Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) one of the most attractive renewable energy solutions to ensure a secure supply of clean electricity to power economic and infrastructure growth on the continent. For example, DNI (Direct Normal Irradiance) values of up to 2900 kWh/m2a are not unusual in some areas in South Africa. Until 2020, the market for solar thermal power plants will show annual double-digit growth rates and attain a volume of over EUR20 billion, with two of the primary focal growth regions being South Africa and North Africa.

In a CSP plant, the drive that positions the mirror accounts for about 20% of the cost of the plant and halving the cost of the drive could lead to a 5% reduction in cost of the overall plant. An invention by South African engineer, Joseph Steele, called the Kimberley Mechanism provides a cost saving planetary gear that is effectively made from a profiled plate.

A consortium led by Spanish company Abengoa has been selected as a preferred bidder by South Africa’s Department of Energy to build a second 100 megawatt (MW) concentrating solar power plant near Pofadder in the Northern Cape province. 

The department is scheduled to officially announce the preferred bidders on Monday for the third round of its renewable energy programme for independent power producers, which aims to add 17 800 MW from renewable sources to South Africa’s energy mix by 2030.

Abengoa, which was confirmed as one of the preferred bidders, is currently building a 50 MW solar tower plant near Upington, also in the Northern Cape, and a 100 MW parabolic trough solar plant, dubbed KaXu Solar One, near Pofadder. 


  • 100 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) project
  • Planned for near Upington in Northern Cape (//Khara Hais municipality)
  • Construction planned for 2013–2016 (as of April 2012)

Bokpoort, SA, 50MW

50MW project in South Africa’s Northern Cape, awarded during the second rounds of bids under the country’s Independent Power Procurement programme (IPP). The leading partners are ACWA of Saudi Arabia and Nomac of Oman.

KaXu Solar One, 100 MW.

  • Parabolic trough plant
  • Advanced dry cooling system
  • Three hours storage capability
  • 1,100 ha site near the town of Pofadder in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province.
  • “About 800 jobs will be created during the construction period, with about 35 permanent plant operations jobs to follow. Around 200 direct and indirect full-time jobs per year will be created in the local community.”

Khi Solar One (50 MW)

  • Abengoa´s third commercial solar tower and its first outside of Spain.
  • “This plant represents important technological advances in efficiency as it uses higher temperatures during the generation process and has more than double the capacity than the last tower Abengoa built in Andalucia. It comes as a result of the latest generation of solar tower technology using superheated steam, which was developed by Abengoa in its R&D centers.”
  • Uses advanced dry cooling to reduce water consumption by 80%.
  • Location 600 ha site close to Upington, also in the Northern Cape Province.
  • Around 35 full-time plant operations employees.
  • Two hours of thermal storage