Northern Cape To Enjoy Better Power Supply As Saudi Arabia Launches R5bn Solar Plant


South Africa has collaborated with Saudi Arabian government delegations, as well as energy developer ACWA Power to launch a  R5 billion ACWA Power Solafrica Bokpoort Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project in the Northern Cape.

This launching which took place on Monday, had the Premier of the Northern Cape, Sylvia Elizabeth Lucas, and members of her executive council, as well as local mayors attended the launch in attendance. The plant is situated along the main road in Groblershoop, a developing town with its over 5000 population.

Speaking at the commissioning of the R5bn Bokpoort concentrated solar energy plant, ACWA Power chairman Mohammad Abunayyan said he was aware of South Africa’s economic situation, including the decline in foreign direct investment.

Abunayyan therefore assured South Africans of a steady power supply and of course at a much affordable price.

“The formal inauguration of the Bokpoort CSP plant was aimed at supplying South Africa with reliable and cost competitive renewable electricity,” said ACWA Power chairperson Mohammad Abunayyan.

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Construction of the plant began in 2013 when ACWA Power which has its headquarter in Saudi Arabia and has an office in Johannesburg successfully got the bid to partner with South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

Prior to the beginning of the plant’s development, Hooggelegen – previously known as Ou Kalahari Hotel – truly had the lion’s share of the hospitality business. But with ACWA Power Solafrica Bokpoort and Concentrated Solar Power Project (CSP) fully operational now, Hooggelegen would no longer be the only accommodation option in town.

The project is regarded as having one of the highest solar radiation footprints in the world and is set to provide 220 000 megawatts per hour annually, It has the capacity to store up to 9,3 hours of power for night usage and to electrify about 200,000 households.

The plant has been described to be working like a giant rechargeable battery and the Bokpoort CSP is equipped with more than nine hours of thermal storage capacity.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said this would not only be a great support to the Eskom‘s ability to meet demand, it would also achieve 230,000 tonnes in carbon-saving emissions.

Davies further noted that the Saudi’s investment plans demonstrated deep economic ties between South Africa and the oil-producing nation

Speaking on the new development, Hooggelegen manager and multi-tasker Elzahn Fourie said the ACWA is a great help to them (referring to both the guesthouse and the broader community). Also that it brought in new businesses and helped the lives of Hooggelegen staff.

“A lot of my female workers’ husbands work on the plant,” said Fourie.

Meanwhile, the Saudi-based energy firm ACWA Power is planning to invest more than R35bn in renewable and conventional energy projects in South Africa over the next five years.

“ACWA power is looking towards the future. We are committed to South Africa. Our total project pipeline exceeds R35bn,” said Mr Abunayyan stated.

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