South African solar plant sets power production record

A concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in South Africa has set a new record for continuous power supply.

Saudi Arabia-based ACWA Power’s 50 MW Bokpoort plant (pictured) in South Africa’s Northern Cape province, which came online last month, has now operated at full load around the clock for 161 hours, or almost six days.

The plant’s performance was boosted by a 1300 MWh molten salt energy storage system which provides 9.3 hours of thermal storage, the highest on the African continent according to ACWA Power.

Nandu Bhula, the plant’s CEO, said, “Globally the biggest challenge of CSP has been its ability to produce energy consistently long after sunset.à‚  The performance of this plant is a clear indication that CSP technology can be used as a baseload capacity option in the same way as conventional power plants.”

And Paddy Padmanathan, president and CEO of ACWA Power, added that the record is “a breakthrough in the commercial, utility-scale use of solar power.”

The R5bn ($35m) project was developed as part of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT) Procurement Programme and is expected to produce 220 GWh per year.à‚ 

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