Concentrated Solar Thermal Projects See Forward Movement in Africa, UAE

Two concentrated solar thermal power projects located in Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have made progress toward commercial operation in recent weeks.

SolarReserve said that its 100-MW Redstone solar thermal project was among a group of projects that secured contracts in the South African Department of Energy Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program. Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe, on April 4 signed agreements for 27 Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Projects worth 55.92 billion rand (US$4.7 billion).

Related: South African Renewable Energy Sector Enjoys Huge Victory with New Contracts

SolarReserve is developing the project as part of a consortium that it is leading with Saudi Arabia-based International Company for Power and Water (ACWA Power).

The Redstone project will be located near Postmasburg in the Northern Cape Province in South Africa, adjacent to the 75-MW Lesedi and 96-MW Jasper solar PV projects already developed by SolarReserve. The project, which SolarReserve says is a first for Africa, will use solar thermal technology with molten salt energy storage.

“The Redstone project marks an important technology advancement for South Africa in clean, renewable power,” SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith said in a statement. “Due to fully integrated thermal energy storage, the facility will provide power on-demand, just like conventional coal, oil, nuclear or natural gas-fired power plants, but without harmful emissions or hazardous materials, and without any fuel cost or foreign exchange risk.”

Source: SolarReserve

ACWA Power at the end of March said that it has broken ground on the fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, a 700-MW concentrated solar thermal project in the UAE that ACWA Power says is the largest of its kind in the world.

The project features a 260-meter solar tower paired with thermal energy storage capacity, and will provide energy to residents of Dubai. ACWA Power said the project has a levelized cost of electricity of US7.3 cents per kW/h.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will generate 1,000 MW by 2020 and 5,000 MW by 2030. The 13-MW solar PV first phase and 200-MW solar PV second phase became operational in 2013 and 2017, respectively. An 800-MW solar PV third phase will be operational by 2020, and ACWA Power expects the first stage of the 700-MW solar thermal project will be commissioned by the end of 2020.

HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority at a groundbreaking ceremony said that the project “has become a global model based on a vision.”

“Today’s achievement supports HH Sheikh Mohammed’s directives to expedite the pace of clean and renewable energy projects, in order to secure a happy future and enhance the quality of life for our future generations in an economy that doesn’t rely on oil…” Al Tayer said. “This will also achieve the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which His Highness launched, to provide 75 percent of Dubai’s total power output from clean sources by 2050.”

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Jennifer Delony, analyst for TransmissionHub, started her career as a B2B news editor in the local and long-distance telecommunications industries in the '90s. Jennifer began covering renewable energy issues at the local level in 2005 and covered U.S. and Canadian utility-scale wind energy as editor of North American Windpower magazine from 2006-2009. She also provides analysis for the oil and natural gas sectors as editor of Oilman Magazine.

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