South Africa solar thermal project breaks continental generation record | RenewEconomy

South Africa solar thermal project breaks continental generation record

The 50MW Bokpoort concentrated solar power plant in South Africa becomes first renewable project on African continent to complete a full week of continuous operation.

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The 50MW Bokpoort concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in South Africa has set a new African benchmark for renewable energy, becoming the first renewable project on the African continent to complete a full week of continuous, round the clock operation.

The Saudi Arabian-based renewable energy developer ACWA Power says that the Bokpoort CSP plant achieved the new continental benchmark of 13 days, or 312 hours of continuous operation on October 23.

Round the clock operation was made possible by optimally managing 9.3-hours’ worth of thermal salt storage overnight, allowing the solar field to continue generation for 13 days.

“We take utmost pride in this record-breaking effort that successfully delivered 312 hours of continuous operations, which translate to approximately 13GWh of energy supply to the grid at an energy load factor of 83%,” said Christo Spammer, Bokpoort CSP CEO.

“This is remarkable for a renewable energy facility and is equivalent to about 20 hours of full load operations daily (with a 50MW turbine) akin to base-load technologies.”

This new feat follows consistent monthly production records set by Bokpoort CSP since June 2020. The plant delivered the highest ever production for the months of August and September and has continued to deliver an excellent performance in October 2020, achieving an all-time highest daily record of 1028MWh earlier this month.”

Located in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, 600-kilometres west of Johannesburg, the 50MW Bokpoort CSP Plant – which uses parabolic trough technology – was commissioned during the second bidding window of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) and has been consistently setting records since operation began in 2016.

“The consistency and reliability of the plant performance is evident from its 101.2% cumulative production performance from June 2020 to October 2020, in relation to the Production Simulation Model that sets the design expectations of the Bokpoort CSP plant,” said Spammer.

“The fact that this performance was achieved during a global pandemic amidst national lockdown protocols, and where the COVID-19 virus had impacted site operations and affected deployment restrictions, is phenomenal.”

“Our goal is to regularly deliver clean, reliable, and renewable energy,” added Badis Derradji, Regional Head of Africa for ACWA Power and Director on the Board of Bokpoort CSP.

ACWA Power also owns and operates the Noor CSP Plants in Ouarzazate, Morocco, and is building a 700MW CSP plant in Dubai.

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