Solar thermal power: Abengoa secures $660m for SA’s Xina Solar One

Xina Solar One power plant

The 100MW parabolic trough plant located in the Northern Cape accumulated $660 million (ZAR8 billion) non-recourse project financing agreements from the African Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, Industrial Development Corporation and the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

Domestic investment banks were also a part of the financing consortium including Absa member Barclays, Nedbank and Rand Merchant Bank, a division of FirstRand Bank.

A 20-year power purchase agreement was signed in 2014 stipulating that the power plant will provide clean power to state-owned utility Eskom.

Thermal energy storage

The solar thermal electricity (STE) power plant has a five-hour thermal energy storage system, which uses molten salts that enable the plant to meet evening peak demand, Abengoa said in a company statement.

The construction of Xina started in 2014 with an estimated total investment of $880 million (ZAR 10 billion). Once the plant is operating at full capacity, it will generate enough power to electrify 95,000 homes and limit the release of CO2 emissions by 348,000 tonnes a year.

Power plants in the Northern Cape

The first solar thermal electricity in South Africa to come into commercial operation is 100MW KaXu Solar One. Xina will be located next to KaXu and according to Abengoa together they will shape the largest solar platform in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Department of Energy of South Africa commissioned the above two projects in addition to 50MW Khi Solar One, a solar power plant using tower technology under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme.

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