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Saudi group keen to expand South African solar footprint well beyond Bokpoort

Author: Terence Creamer

Located on a dead flat piece of land about an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Upington and close to the Orange river, the curved solar collector mirrors, gleaming pipes and large molten-salt tanks of the 50 MW Bokpoort concentrated solar power (CSP) plant stand in stark industrial contrast to the vast expanse of grass and shrubs, distant rolling hills and vineyards.


Nevertheless, the R5-billion parabolic-trough plant offers a practical reference point for South Africa’s recent clean-energy progress and for the much-vaunted notion of Northern Cape’s solar radiation becoming its most valuable natural resource.


Developed by a consortium led by private Saudi Arabian utility ACWA Power, the plant entered commercial operations earlier this year and, between March 18 and March 25, operated continuously for 161 hours, at a load factor of 76%, before inclement weather intervened.


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