Mott MacDonald advises on South African solar power project

15 December 2017 3 min. read

The Xina Concentrated Solar Power Project recently began production, and is projected to add around 100 MW to the electricity grid in South Africa. Mott MacDonald provided lender’s technical advice for the $880 million project.

Focus on sustainable energy production as a key means to mitigate climate-harming fossil fuel expenditure and meet Paris Agreement targets, is seeing renewable energy projects implemented across the globe. As it stands, considerable effort will be required to meet the target, which has caused a spike in the demand for the production of solar energy.

One such initiative, namely the Xina Concentrated Solar Power (CSP project) located in Pofadder, South Africa, has recently begun production. The project, which was led by Spanish energy space giant Abengoa, following selection from the South African Department of Energy, is slated to produce around 400,000 MWh per year, equivalent to the energy use of around 90,000 households. The plant leverages a large number of mirrors, concentrated to transfer the sun’s heat to a giant 100 MW turbine and salt (47,155 tons) – allowing for around 5.5 hours of energy storage (1,650 MWh) for after sunset energy production. In total, the project will reduce the country’s emission profile by around 348,000 tons of CO2, annually.

Mott MacDonald advises on South African solar power project

Engineering and consultancy firm Mott MacDonald was the lender’s technical advisor for the $880 million project. The consulting firm worked on the technical, environmental and social due diligence for the project to its backers, as well as construction monitoring services. In addition, the firm will continue to play a role throughout its operation, primarily as a monitor.

Remarking on the project, Alberto Cuellar, Mott MacDonald’s Project Manager, said, "This is the first CSP project in South Africa that will benefit from the time of day payment structure. This tariff incentivises generation during peak demand hours and will allow the plant to capitalise on the dispatchable energy that CSP technology can offer to the grid.”

“We have worked closely with the lenders and project company during the successful delivery of this project, which provides further evidence of our world-class capability in the CSP sector. We are currently involved on all seven CSP projects awarded under REIPPP to date, either as lenders’ technical advisor or owner’s engineer and we look forward to continuing to support the development of the CSP sector in South Africa," he added.

Mott MacDonald continues to support similar projects across the globe, such as the government sustainable storage programme, the Walney offshore wind farm financing in Cumbria and the Northern Tidal Power Gateways project, as well as others  such as a solar energy project in Jordan early this year. In the wind energy space, the firms acted in a similar role for the Norther offshore wind farm in Belgium, the Gori wind farm in Georgia and the Gobi Desert windfarm in Mongolia. 

The consulting industry has been increasingly involved in solving environmental issues in South Africa. IN recent months, management consultancy Boston Consulting Group partnered with WWF to conduct a detailed assessment on the water scenario in the country.