The Khi Solar One concentrating solar power plant is now one step closer to reality with the recent completion of the Khi Solar One tower in the Northern Cape province, near Upington, in South Africa. The company behind the 50 MW project — Abengoa, together with its partners the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Khi Community Trust — recently held a ceremony to commemorate the important milestone. An important milestone with regard to the project itself, and also with regard to the pursuit of South Africa’s renewable energy goals.
The newly completed 205-meter tall tower — which will be the centerpiece of, and driving force behind the 50 MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant — represents a significant advance in solar tower efficiency, possessing both the capacity for higher temperatures than previous designs, and also a new ‘innovative’ dry-cooling system. The improvements are the result of research performed by Abengoa.
Khi Solar One, a 50 megawatt (MW) superheated steam solar tower with two hours of thermal storage, and KaXu Solar One, Abengoa’s 100 MW parabolic trough plant also under construction in the Northern Cape, will be the first concentrating solar power plants in operation in South Africa. The South Africa Department of Energy intends to bring 17,800 MW online from renewable sources by 2030, framing South Africa’s strategy for energy independence. The solar projects form a part of this strategy, as well as have additional environmental benefits: creating roughly 1400 local construction jobs on average per annum, peaking near 2000, and about 70 permanent operation jobs, as well as reducing the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by about 498,000 tons each year.
Abengoa designs, constructs and operates its own plants, and is one of the few companies that use both parabolic trough and tower technology. It currently has 21 plants in operation with a total installed capacity of 843 MW, as well as 810 MW under construction worldwide.