South Africa Launches R5 Billion Concentrated Solar Power Plant

A 50 MW concentrated solar power plant, built by Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power-led consortium, was officially inaugurated on Monday in Bokpoort near Upington, the Northern Cape region of South Africa.

The Bokpoort Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Project, a joint venture between South Africa and Saudi Arabia, required an investment of ZAR 5 billion (about US $320 million), which Minister Davis reported to be the largest investment project by Saudi Arabia.

The opening ceremony of the Bokpoort concentrated solar plant was attended by the South Africa Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies and his Saudi counterpart, Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah.

Construction of the plant began inJune 2013, following a successful bid by the ACWA Power,  the Saudi Arabian power and water project developer and investor. ACWA Power awarded the EPC contract to a consortium of EPC contractors composed of three Spanish CSP specialist companies, namely, TSK, Acciona and Sener and Crowie Concessions of South Africa.

The operation and maintenance will be undertaken by the consortium led by NOMAC, a subsidiary of ACWA Power. The off-taker for the project will be Eskom Holdings, a government-owned national utility.

Bokpoort solar plant is already in operation and features SENER parabolic trough collector technology with a 1,300 MWht system of two energy storage tanks using molten salts that provide 9.3 hours of operation. The solar field of the plant consists of 180 loops, and its annual production will be over 230 GWh (net).

This unique utility-scale storage system will allow to feed over 200,000 South African households with electricity during the day and night and save approximately 230,000 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions during every year of operation.

Chris Ehlers, the company’s managing director for the Southern Africa region said:

“We are here to serve the nation and to contribute to its development. Our commitment to the development of South African economy beyond reliably supplying renewable energy at a cost competitive tariff is demonstrated by the R2 billion worth of locally sourced components made in South Africa that has been used in the construction of this plant and the creation of 1,300 construction jobs.”

He added:

“Furthermore, in addition to sharing 5% of the ownership of this business venture with the local community via a community trust and 5% ownership with the national non-profit organisation, LoveLife, we have also committed R5 million to date in providing education and training for people from the local community and in improving social infrastructure in the area.”

This project forms part of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement (REIPPP) programme designed so as to contribute towards the target of 3 725 megawatts and towards socio-economic and environmentally sustainable growth, and to start and stimulate the renewable industry in South Africa. The REIPPP program is featured in the following report published by the World Bank.


Bokpoort CSP plant is the first in a series of investments in the power sector that ACWA Power is making in South Africa. The company is expecting to commence construction on the 100 MW Redstone CSP Project, also in Northern Cape, and is awaiting the outcome of tender submissions for a 300 MW coal-fired plant in Mpumalanga and another 150 MW CSP plant also at Northern Cape.

Source: Sener, SABC News, South Africa DTI. Image Credit: Acciona.