8 November 2012

South Africa: Spanish Firm Starts On SA Solar Projects

Spanish renewable energy group Abengoa announced on Tuesday that it has begun construction on two concentrated solar power projects in South Africa.

Abengoa will build a 50 MW solar power tower near Upington and a 100 MW parabolic trough solar power plant near Pofadder, both in South Africa's semi-desert Northern Cape province.

The announcement follows Monday's signing of the first round of agreements between the government and independent power producers signalling the start of South Africa's first large-scale renewable energy projects.

On Tuesday, Abengoa signed long-term power purchase agreements with Eskom, South Africa's state power utility, and closed project finance agreements with a group of South African and international financial institutions.

Abengoa, who will build, operate and maintain the two solar plants, owns a controlling 51% of the projects, with the South African state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) owning 29% and a local black economic empowerment partner owning the remaining 20%.

"South Africa has one of the best solar resources in the world, with great potential to be a leader in concentrating solar power generation [CSP]," the company said in a statement.

Abengoa currently has 743 MW of installed solar capacity around the world and 910 MW under construction, and is one of the few companies in the world that builds and operates both tower and parabolic trough plants.

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 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.

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