European bank lends €50m to South Africa solar project

The European Investment Bank is giving €50m ($63.5m) towards the first large concentrated solar power project in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Khi Solar One project is one of the first private sector renewable energy projects in South Africa and is intended to help South Africa meet its renewable energy targets.

Khi Solar One consists of a 200m high tower and more than 4500 heliostat moving mirrors to reflect light onto the tower.  It is located on a 600 hectare site close to Upington, in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province.

Jointly owned by Abengoa, the Industrial Development Corporation and the Black Economic Empowerment programme, the 50 MW project will be Abengoa’s third commercial solar tower and its first outside of Spain.

The South African plant will have more than double the capacity than the last tower Abengoa built in Andalucia.

Khi Solar One will use concentrated solar technology that harnesses solar radiation by focusing it onto a small area in order to produce steam, which drives a turbine and produces electricity. Advanced dry cooling technology will reduce water consumption by two thirds.

Khi Solar One will sell its electricity to South Africa’s state owned electricity utility, Eskom, for 20 years, under a power purchase agreement.

Other financial backers for the project are IFC, FMO, Proparco, IDC and the Development Bank of South Africa.

Pim van Ballekom, the European Investment Bank’s vice-president for sub-Saharan Africa, said Khi Solar One was “a milestone that will help convert South Africa’s immense solar resource into clean and sustainable power that can be stored”.


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