File photo: Dean Hutton/Bloomberg.

Upington - South African and Saudi Arabian government delegations, as well as energy developer ACWA Power, on Monday launched the R5 billion ACWA Power Solafrica Bokpoort Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Project in the Northern Cape.

“The formal inauguration of the Bokpoort CSP plant is a significant milestone in supplying South Africa with reliable and cost competitive renewable electricity,” said ACWA Power chairperson Mohammad Abunayyan.

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Alongside Abunayyan was Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and his Saudi counterpart, Minister of Commerce and Trade Tawfig Fawzan Alrabiah. The ministers officiated at the ceremony.

The Premier of the Northern Cape, Sylvia Elizabeth Lucas, and members of her executive council, as well as local mayors attended the launch.

Construction of the plant began in 2013 following the successful bid by ACWA Power - which is headquartered in Saudi Arabia and has an office in Johannesburg - as part of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

ACWA’s tariff during the second procurement window was 12 percent lower than the cap set by government for CSP technology during that round.

This, said ACWA, was part of their “mission to deliver reliable power at the lowest possible cost, thereby contributing to the economic development of South Africa and social welfare of its citizens”.

The project is regarded as having one of the highest solar radiation footprints in the world and is set to provide 220 000 megawatts per hour annually, powering more than 200 000 homes.

Described as working like a “giant rechargable battery”, the Bokpoort CSP is equipped with more than nine hours of thermal storage capacity.

It is also set to become the CSP with the largest level of thermal storage in the world when completed.

Already an award-winning project, Bokpoort CSP is also fulfilling government’s goals of attracting foreign direct investment, creating jobs, and stimulating the country’s economy.

“The success of the project demonstrates a robust partnership between the government of South Africa, through the Department of Energy, and ACWA Power,” said Abunayyan.

“We see this as the start of an enduring partnership with South Africa to augment the foundation for economic growth and social development,” he said.

ACWA is also expecting to commence construction on its 100 MW Redstone CSP Project, also in Northern Cape, as well as awaiting the outcome of tender submissions for a 300 MW coal-fired plant in Mpumalanga and another 150 MW CSP plant also in the Northern Cape.

ANA