By Tom Nevin
The Bokpoort CSP project in South Africa's Northern Cape province is expected to get underway in the week of 22nd April this year after a holdup in the financial close at the Department of Energy. The anticipated start date of the 50MW parabolic trough installation on the Orange River near Groblershoop was 4th March. The delay was due to the financial close postponement of Round 2 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP), affecting all projects in the programme.
According to project director Pravashin Govender of consortium leader ACWA Power Africa Holdings says the new date means that “we will be breaking ground on the project by the end of April”. The project sets new standards in that it incorporates nine hours of storage “effectively, on a good day, pretty much a baseload operation”, Govender told CSPToday.
The Bokspoort CSP plant was originally designed for a net capacity of 75MW. The REEIPPP RFP released on 3rd August 2011 provided an allocation of 200MW of CSP with a maximum capacity limit of 100MW per project. The project was not sbmitted in the first procurement phase where Abengoa Solar was awarded 150MW and in order to remain compliant with the remaining capacity for the second phase Bokpoort's capacity was reduced to 50MW.
Govender said he hoped the Bokpoort project would be the first of others in South Africa's renewables programme for independent producers and “next time round we'll look at tower technology as well”.
Reviews on CSP in recent months have been mixed, but Govender insists that CSP has a bright future fundamentally driven by its storage capability and its flexibility in how the potential of the technology can be used. The storage tank to be employed at Bokpoort will be world's biggest for CSP technology. From a long term perspective he believes CSP is headed for big things, “Given the technology evolution and the technology path CSP is still behind other technologies, but having said that we take a lot of cheer from other jurisdictions where CSP is a top performer.
In Saudi Arabia, ACWA's home turf, renewables now account for around 54,000MW
of which the bulk is CSP at about 27,000MW.
Storage capability is just one of theadvantages of the plant,” said Govender .
The electricity generated from the CSP plant will displace energy from the South African grid which is predominantly coal fired and consequently GHG emmissions intensive.