South African enterprise, Engie has announced full commercial operation of the Kathu 100 MW Solar Park on Wednesday, January 30th, 2019. This state of the art plant is a greenfield Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project with parabolic trough technology and equipped with a molten salt storage system that allows for 4.5 hours of thermal energy storage to provide reliable electricity in the absence of solar radiation and during peak demand. The Kathu site covers approximately 4.5 km², with 384,000 mirrors. Kathu is the first CSP development for Engie.

It’s pertinent to state that the solar park was awarded under Round 3.5 of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (REIPPP) — a competitive tender process that was launched to facilitate private sector investment in renewable energy generation. Kathu Solar Park signed a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) pursuant to the REIPPP procurement programme with the off-taker/buyer.

“The completion of Kathu shows our continued commitment to economic and environmentally friendly development in South Africa. Kathu with its molten salt storage design offers a clean solution to overcome the intermittency of renewable energies. We are proud to contribute to the country’s renewable energy goals, and look forward to continuing the projects initiated with local communities making Kathu a genuine driver of regional economic development,” said Isabelle Kocher, CEO of Engie.

With its operations, Kathu will provide clean and reliable energy to 179, 000 homes in the local community of the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality, the Northern Cape and South Africa as a whole. In addition to this, it is estimated that the Kathu Solar Park will save six million tons of CO2 over 20 years, and will foster further local economic development through several projects, such as the trust for the benefit of the communities situated in the Northern Cape and sourcing of services from local entrepreneurs.

Engie is a global energy and services group, focused on three core activities; low-carbon power generation, mainly based on natural gas and renewable energy, global networks and customer solutions. The company has taken up major global challenges such as the fight against global warming, access to energy to all, or mobility, and offer our residential customers, businesses and communities’ energy production solutions and services that reconcile individual and collective interests.

This increases the total number of solar-based investments across Africa with the highest concentration in the east, north and southern Africa. When will we begin to see such in Western Africa, especially in Nigeria which is yet to sort out its power issues?