CAPE TOWN – South Africa’s Bokpoort CSP plant located in the Northern Cape province has become the first renewable energy facility on the African continent to complete a full week of continuous around-the-clock operation. The plant set an African record of 13 days, or 312 hours of continuous operation on October 23, this is almost double the record it had set in March 2016.
Now in its 5th year of commercial operation, the Bokpoort CSP plant was developed by a consortium led by the Saudi Arabian renewable energy developer, ACWA Power. The US$300 million (R5 billion), concentrated solar power (CSP) plant with thermal storage was commissioned during the 2nd bidding window of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP), the plant has an energy capacity of 50MW.
ACWA Power indicated that the plant’s record breaking performance was a result of optimally managing 9.3 hours of the thermal salt storage system overnight, which allowed for a perfectly timed transition to the solar field every morning for the entire duration of this effort.
PLANT PERFORMANCE BASE-LOAD CAPABLE
Bokpoort CSP CEO, Christo Spammer, indicated that the plant’s performance is synonymous with base-load technologies citing the plant’s 20 hours of full load operations.
“We take utmost pride in this record-breaking effort that successfully delivered 312 hours of continuous operations, which translate to approximately 13GWh of energy supply to the grid at an energy load factor of 83%. This is remarkable for a renewable energy facility and is equivalent to about 20 hours of full load operations daily (with a 50MW turbine) akin to base-load technologies,” said Bokpoort CSP CEO, Christo Spammer.
This new feat stems from the consistent monthly production records being set by Bokpoort CSP since June 2020. The plant delivered the highest ever production for the months of August and September and has continued to deliver an excellent performance in October 2020, achieving an all-time highest daily record of 1028MWh earlier this month.
CONSISTENT POWER PRODUCTION PERFORMANCE
“The consistency and reliability of the plant performance is evident from its 101.2% cumulative production performance from June 2020 to October 2020, in relation to the Production Simulation Model that sets the design expectations of the Bokpoort CSP plant. The fact that this performance was achieved during a global pandemic amidst national lockdown protocols, and where the COVID-19 virus had impacted site operations and affected deployment restrictions, is phenomenal,” Spammer added.
Ecstatic, the Chairperson of Bokpoort CSP, Mr. Nandu Bhula plant further added that the plant is now setting records with consistent regularity and can be considered as a role model regional CSP facility that is delivering on all fronts, including production, health, safety, environment as well as socio-economic obligations.
ACWA Power has two concentrated solar power (CSP) projects on the African continent, with another one located in Ouarzazate Morocco named Noor Energy 1.
Renewable technology development and deployment around the globe has significantly intensified and the future of CSP in this mix remains equally exciting. With the proven and reliable performance of CSP plants across the globe, alongside well-established efficiencies, CSP technology should undoubtedly take its rightful place amongst other suitable renewable technologies, in pursuit of the collective goal of achieving energy security in all countries that have been blessed with a significant solar resource.