100MW Ilanga CSP1 plant begins commercial operation in South Africa

Located 30km east of Upington in Northern Cape province, South Africa, the 100MW Ilanga Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) 1 plant has begun supplying energy to the country’s national grid.

The R11-billion power station is the fifth CSP project to connect to the grid in South Africa. The Mott MacDonald-Ayesa joint venture (JV) was owner’s engineer to the project company, Karoshoek Solar One, for the construction phase of the project and provided design review and site construction supervision. The JV also had a permanent site presence with a multidisciplinary team.

The plant employs parabolic trough technology to concentrate the sunrays in a large solar field, using thermal energy to generate steam that drives a 100MW steam turbine.

It has the capacity to light up about 100,000 households and is capable of storing the equivalent of 5 hours of full load energy during the day and delivering power during the night-time peak period when the national grid is under the severest strain. The plant will displace over 340,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

Alberto Cuellar, Mott MacDonald’s project manager said: “Commercial operation is a key milestone for the project which is largely a result of the combined efforts of various stakeholders who together have overcome the various challenges during the construction phase. Not only did the project achieve commercial operation on time, the performance observed during the first weeks of operation has exceeded expectations.”

Viktor Lempesis, Mott MacDonald’s project principal added: “Ilanga strengthens our position in the CSP sector in South Africa where we have been involved in all the projects developed to date. We have built a solid relationship with Ayesa, which has brought additional opportunities for collaboration.”

The power station forms part of the 400MW that is now being generated by the CSP installed under the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme. Mott MacDonald was technical advisor for the programme, providing technical and commercial inputs for the request for proposal and power purchase agreement documentation, and evaluating all submitted bids for technical compliance.

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