According to the Southern Africa Solar Thermal and Electricity Association (Sastela), the two power stations will leverage investment of over R10-billion, and together will generate almost 500 GWh per year.

Spanish renewable energy group Abengoa has completed construction of the tower section of South Africa’s first concentrating solar power (CSP) plant, one of three such plants under development in the semi-desert Northern Cape province that will together add 200 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to the country’s national grid.

Abengoa is one of 28 independent power producers that signed contracts with the South African government late last year, in the first round of a programme that will see an initial 1 400 MW of renewable energy being added to SA’s energy mix, while bringing an estimated R47-billion in new investment into the country.

The Department of Energy aims to bring 17 800 MW from renewable sources online by 2030.

Abengoa, in partnership with the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and community trusts in Upington and Pofadder, is building Khi Solar One, a 50 MW solar tower plant near Upington, and KaXu Solar One, a 100 MW parabolic trough solar plant near Pofadder.

According to the Southern Africa Solar Thermal and Electricity Association (Sastela), the two power stations will leverage investment of over R10-billion, and together will generate almost 500 GWh per year of clean solar electricity.

On Monday, representatives of the government, the IDC and the Khi Community Trust attended a flag-raising event to mark the completion of the 205-metre tall tower of Khi Solar One.

Abengoa, who will build, operate and maintain the two solar plants, owns a controlling 51% of the projects, with the IDC owning 29% and community trusts owning the remaining 20%.

According to Abengoa, the two plants will reduce South Africa’s carbon dioxide emissions by about 498 000 tons a year, while creating between 1 400 and 2 000 construction jobs and about 70 permanent operation jobs, as well as numerous indirect jobs to fulfill the needs required by the plant and its construction.

"South Africa has one of the best solar resources in the world, with great potential to be a leader in concentrating solar power generation," the company said when construction on the plants commenced in November.