In recent years, Africa has witnessed a surge in investment in solar energy in an effort to power a continent that still lags behind in terms of electricity connectivity. At least 600 million people in Africa lack access to electricity, according to an International Energy Agency (IEA).
Construction and Civil Engineering looks at Africa’s biggest operational solar projects by installed capacity.
1.Noor Power Station
It is also called Ouarzazate Solar Power Station. It is located in the Drâa-Tafilalet region in Morocco, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from Ouarzazate town, in Ghessat rural council area. At 510 MW, it is the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant.
The Noor solar park includes Noor I, Noor II and Noor III projects, which occupy an area of 2,500ha. The three power plants were grid connected by 2018. The Noor Solar Complex offsets 760,000t of CO2 emissions a year.
2.De Aar Solar Power
De Aar Solar Power is located 6 km outside the town of De Aar in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. The facility is based on over 100 hectares of Emathanjeni Municipal land, and comprises 167,580 solar (PV) panels. De Aar Solar Power supplies Eskom-the state power utility with 85,458 MWh of renewable electrical energy per year; enough to power more than 19 000 average South African households.
3.Benban Solar Park
Benban Solar Park is a photovoltaic power station with a total capacity of 165.5 MW which corresponds to an annual production of approximately 3.8 TWh. It is located in Benban (Aswan Governorate) in the western desert, approximately 650 km south of Cairo and 40 km northwest of Aswan.Benban is currently the 4th largest solar power plant in the world.
Benban Solar Park located on an area of 37.2 km2 (14.4 sq mi) which is subdivided into 41 separate plots arranged in 4 rows with each plot range in size from 0.3 km2 (0.12 sq mi) to 1 km2 (0.39 sq mi). Each plot will be available to different companies to develop 41 plants.
4.KaXu Solar One
KaXu Solar One (KXSO) is also one of Africa’s biggest operational solar projects. It is a concentrated solar thermal plant, located in the Northern Cape Region of South Africa, located NE from the town of Pofadder, Khai Ma municipality.
KaXu Solar One is 100 megawatts (MW).It covers an area of 1,100 hectares (2,718 acres).
The KXSO collector surface is more than 800,000 m2 (8,600,000 sq ft) with a full-load molten salt storage capacity of 2.5 hours.
The project is developed by the Spanish company Abengoa, and financed with help from Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Community Trust group.
5.Xina Solar One
Xina Solar One is a 100 MW plant that uses parabolic trough technology to generate renewable and sustainable and dispatchable power from the sun. Furthermore, this power plant features a thermal energy storage system using molten salts that can store the necessary energy for a further 5.5 hour supply, and thereby assist in meeting the South African peak demand.
Xina Solar One is located near Pofadder, in the Northern Cape Province, and is bordered to the north by Kaxu Solar One. The plant is expected to produce clean energy to serve more than 95,000 South African households and prevent the emission of 348,000 tons of CO2 each year.
6.Ilanga-1 CSP Plant
Concentrated Solar Power plant Ilanga 1 started operation in 2018. It Provides energy for around 100,000 homes while saving 90,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.
This unique Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant contributes 100MWe of on-demand power that is clean, sustainable and reliable.
The solar thermal power plant has no fuel costs nor emits harmful emissions ensuring a low carbon footprint. It is equipped with a patented molten salt storage system that allows five hours of energy storage, enabling the plant to continue producing electricity in the absence of sunlight.
7.Kathu Solar Park
Kathu Solar Park is a concentrated solar power (CSP) thermal energy power plant, located near Kathu in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.It is one of Africa’s biggest operational solar projects.
It has a capacity of 100.0 megawatts (MW), and full-load molten storage capacity of 4.5 hours. It covers an area of approximately 800 hectares (1,977 acres).
The project shareholders, led by Engie include the Public Investment Corporation, SIOC Community Development Trust, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Investec, Lereko Metier and the Kathu Trust. The plant is under construction by the consortium formed by Acciona and SENER, acting as Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) provider.
The plant entered commercial operation in 2019.
8.Jasper Solar Power Project
The Jasper Solar Energy Project (or Jasper PV Project) is a 96 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic power station, located near Kimberley, in South Africa’s Northern Cape. The project completed construction in October 2014 and is fully operational to power up to 80,000 homes.
9.Mulilo-Sonnedix-Prieska PV Project
The 125 hectare, 86MW, Mulilo-Sonnedix-Prieska PV project, in the Northern Cape officially started commercial operation on Friday 22 July, 2016. Construction was completed after only 17 months.
This milestone project was developed in partnership with Mulilo Renewable Energy and Ixowave Women in Power, and was built for Sonnedix by juwi Renewable Energies (Pty) Ltd, the South African subsidiary of the international juwi group.
10.Kalkbult solar photovoltaic (PV) plant
The 75 megawatt (MW) Kalkbult solar photovoltaic (PV) plant near Petrusville in the sun-drenched Northern Cape will generate 135 million kilowatt hours a year, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 33 000 households. It was fully commissioned in 10 months, with construction commencing in late November 2012 and electricity delivery to the grid starting on September 27 2013.