The engineering and construction group SENER and the infrastructure, renewable energy and services corporation ACCIONA together form the consortium chosen to develop the turnkey project of the Kathu solar thermal plant. This complex is led by GDF SUEZ with South African partners and has been selected by the South African Department of Energy (DOE) to form part of the country’s renewable energy development program (REIPPP), with a forecast investment of more than EUR 500 million.

It is a 100 MW plant with parabolic troughs (specifically, the SENERtrough®-2 system, designed and patented by SENER) and a thermal energy storage capacity of 4.5 hours, thanks to the use of molten salts. Located in the town of Kathu, in the Northern Cape Province, the plant will begin operations in 2018 and will be able to supply electricity to 80,000 homes.

Because of the nature of the contract, SENER and ACCIONA will carry out the engineering, construction and commissioning of the entire facility. The building consortium will also use local suppliers, as the project is fully committed to contributing to the local community.

For both companies, this is their second solar thermal project in South Africa, the first being the Bokpoort plant (Upington), which will be operational in late 2015 and in which they also form part of the building consortium. This is also a turnkey project that uses SENERtrough® technology and a molten salt storage system. 

In total, SENER has been involved in 29 solar plants, most of them turnkey projects, in Spain, the USA, South Africa, and Morocco, which together represent an installed capacity of more than 2,000 MWe and CO2 savings of more than one million tons annually. This confirms the company’s position as a leader in the solar thermal energy market, both in the number of projects in its portfolio and because of the technological solutions it has developed. Some of its projects are veritable technological milestones, such as Gemasolar and Valle 1 and Valle 2, in Spain, and the Noor complex in Morocco, where SENER also forms parts of the building consortium, both for Noor 1 and for the second phase (Noor 2 and Noor 3), which was recently awarded.

For its part, ACCIONA is one of the world’s biggest renewable energy operators, and owns an installed capacity of 8,500 MW. It is a turnkey provider of electricity generating facilities using wind, solar and photovoltaic technology. In solar thermal energy, it operates 315 MW in the USA and Spain and has built more than 12 plants. It is currently working on projects such as Noor 1 in Morocco and Bokpoort in South Africa.

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