Two new concentrated solar power (CSP) plants have been announced by the Department of Energy, to be built in the Northern Cape.

Kathu Solar Park and Redstone Solar Thermal Power, which will both build 100 MW capacity, were the preferred bidders in the third round of the government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

Concentrated solar power is able to store solar power generated during daylight hours. The two Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants will add to the five already commissioned in the hot, dry province, including one belonging to Eskom.

A consortium led by GDF SUEZ, and comprising the Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust, Investec Bank, Lereko Metier and Public Investment Corporation, is backing the Kathu Solar Park.

It will incorporate parabolic trough technology and will be equipped with a molten-salt storage system that will allow 4.5 hours of thermal energy storage.

The consortium behind the Redstone Solar Thermal Power project is led by SolarReserve, a global developer of utility-scale solar power projects and advanced solar thermal technology, and International Company for Water and Power Projects (ACWA Power), the Saudi water and power developer, owner and operator.

SolarReserve said the project, which had the lowest tariff bid to date from any CSP project in the country, was scheduled to achieve financial close later in 2015 and begin operations in early 2018.

The first of its kind in Africa, Redstone would use molten salt energy storage technology in a tower configuration able to support South Africa’s demand for energy when it was needed most – day and night, said the company.

“The 100 MW project with 12 hours of full-load energy storage will be able to reliably deliver a stable electricity supply to more than 200 000 South African homes during peak demand periods, even well after the sun has set.

“Fuelled completely by the sun, with no back up fuel required, the project also features dry cooling of the power generation cycle as an important element to minimize water use.”