New Solar Plant opens in Upington

100MW of new solar power was added to the grid, as the Karoshoek Solar One project went live in Upington, Northern Cape.  This project is the latest success of Government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) which mobilises private capital and expertise to provide renewable energy to Eskom. With the current pressure on supply, this latest addition to the grid is especially welcomed.

Karoshoek is a concentrated solar project harvesting the sun’s energy through a series of concave mirrors, and using this energy to heat High Temperature Fluid, which then drives a steam turbine to convert the energy into electricity. This project also has the capacity to store energy in enormous tanks containing molten salt, and can therefore continue to supply the grid during the evening peak, after the sun has set. The project is located 30 km east of Upington, in an area that is described as one of the best places on earth to generate solar power. This is due to high levels of solar radiation as well as easy access to the national grid.

The project was originated by Mr Pancho Ndebele of Emvelo Holdings (Emvelo) and co-developed by Emvelo, and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Cobra (a Spanish company responsible for the construction of the plant) who respectively hold 15%, 20% and 20% shareholding in the project. The remaining shareholders in the project are the Community Trust, Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and, Hosken Consolidated Investment (HCI) respectively owning 15%, 20% and 10%. The plant was constructed by Dankocom, a joint venture between Spanish companies Cobra and Sener, and their local partner, Emvelo.

Commercial funding played a crucial role in enabling the project and was provided by Absa, DBSA, IDC, Investec, Nedbank, Standard Bank, PIC and Vantage Capital. In line with the rules of the REIPPPP, the project will make annual contributions to Social Economic Development projects in the area around the plant. During the last 3 years of construction, the plant created a large number of jobs, employing mostly local people.

The CEO and CFO of Karoshoek Solar One are both Black Women, a rare achievement in the energy industry. The Owner’s team was supported by Mott Macdonald and Ayesa.

The CEO of Karoshoek Solar One, Niroshma Chetty expressed her satisfaction with progress:

“Not many projects have been completed on time and within budget, as we have done today. It has been a massive effort involving many teams of people. We would like to thank our EPC Contractor, for their skill and dedication. We also recognise the outstanding role of Eskom, the IPP office in the Department of Energy, and the local Government of Upington. We also thank the community for their ongoing interest in and support of the project. The shareholders, board of directors and lenders have also played an outstanding role and have demonstrated skill and patience. A great deal of teamwork is required to execute large, complex projects like this one. We are very proud to be part of the process.”

“We have shown once again that solar energy has a huge role to play in South Africa. With renewable energy we can combine the provision of power, with positive social and environmental outcomes. Solar technology allows us to produce energy without releasing carbon or other harmful emissions. It is a crucial part of our energy mix.”


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