Many in the U.S. may know Abengoa for its ethanol and cellulosic pilot plant initiatives. However, the diversified company has begun construction of two concentrating solar power (CSP) plants in South Africa: 50 megawatts (MW) solar power tower Khi Solar One and 100 MW parabolic trough plan KaXu Solar One. The two plants are just two of 28 renewable energy projects announced by the South Africa Department of Energy in late 2011 with a goal of bringing 17,800 MW of renewable energy online by 2030.
Abengoa is partnering with the state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), South Africa’s largest development finance institution. The company will build, operate and maintain the plants and owns 51 percent of the projects while IDC holds 29 percent, and the Black Economic Empowerment program maintains the remaining 20 percent. The two CSP plants have already signed long term power purchase agreements with Eskom, South Africa’s power utility.
Khi Solar One and KaXu Solar One, located in the Northern Cape Province near Upington and Pofadder, respectively, will use advanced technology to provide South Africa with clean energy while reducing the area’s use of coal and creating local jobs and industry in the region. In addition to reducing the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by about 498,000 tons each year, the construction of Khi Solar One and KaXu will create roughly 1,400 local construction jobs on average per annum, peaking near 2,000, and about 70 permanent operation jobs. Numerous direct and indirect jobs will also be created to fulfill the needs required by the plant and its construction.
Abengoa and the IDC are stimulating economic development in the area while building South Africa’s solar industry. South Africa has one of the best solar resources in the world with great potential to be a leader in concentrating solar power generation.