SENERtrough-2 system at Kathu Solar Park.PHOTO: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - The Kathu Solar Park in the Northern Cape on Thursday announced it has started a salt melting process to generate electricity in the absence of solar radiation.

According to a statement, the molten salt will be used to store heat from the solar field that can later be recovered to produce steam and generate electricity in the absence of solar radiation, extending the operational capacity of the plant after sunset and during cloudy weather. The initiative was achieved by the engineering and technology groups SENER and ACCIONA Industrial.

Siyabonga Mbanjwa, SENER regional managing director in Southern Africa, said: “The use of molten salt as thermal energy storage system will allow Kathu Solar Park to operate in a cost-effective manner, storing the generated energy from the sun, producing and dispatching electricity, in absence of solar radiation, to satisfy the peak of demand.”

ACCIONA Industrial chief operating officer Roberto Felipe said: “This project is technologically cutting-edge, and the complexity of both engineering and construction is only comparable to large infrastructure projects.”

The construction started on site in May 2016 and is due for completion within the next few months. Approximately 1,400 jobs were being created during the construction phase. It is estimated that the Kathu Solar Park will save six million tonnes of CO2 over 20 years.

African News Agency (ANA)