Xina Solar One power project to reduce SA’s dependency on oil and natural gas


Solar power project, Xina Solar One, aimed at reducing South Africa’s dependence on oil and natural gas, has continued to offer employment opportunities to residents in the Northern Cape with over 1,300 new jobs for locals and an additional 80 in the recently commissioned phase.

The project, one of seven concentrated solar power projects under the Department of Energy, is being developed by Abengoa on behalf of a consortium of 4 companies, with Abengoa Solar having 40% stake in the project.

The US$736m solar thermal plant, has a total installed capacity of 100 MW and will supply clean electricity to Eskom under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

According to media reports, the power produced by the plant’s five-hour thermal energy storage system will be enough to provide electricity to approximately 95,000 houses. This, in turn, will act as a contribution to South Africa’s goals of introducing up to 17,800MW of renewable energy by 2030.

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Dominic Goncalves, Abengoa’s vice-president for business development, said that Xina Solar One has already been working at full capacity since August 2017 and that the company invested 40% on local materials and equipment such as pipes, pumps, valves, mirrors, steel structures, mechanical assemblies and civil works.

The powerhouse of the plant will contain the steam turbine and generator, a transformer and a substation which will be constructed adjacent to the building.

Other developments as part of the project are; An additional steam generator, water supply pipelines, suspended power lines, abstraction point on the Orange River,  and storage and suspension reservoirs, along with the fire protection supply.

According to Goncalves, the solar radiation in the Northern Cape makes the region suitable for the projects. As such, the company will further look into deploying both solar thermal and photovoltaic energy in the region.  He also noted that the Xina project has helped solve South Africa’s energy crisis.

Also in the same region, Abengoa runs Kaxu and Khi solar power projects.