Sub-Saharan Africa’s first CSP plant becomes operational, South Africa

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The US$860 million KaXu Solar One concentrated solar power (CSP) plant1 in Pofadder, South Africa has become the first in Sub-Saharan Africa to enter operation. Mott MacDonald was lenders’ technical advisor2 during the project’s financing and construction and is now monitoring operations in an ongoing role.

Awarded during the first round of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer (REIPPP) programme, the 100MW KaXu plant is capable of producing enough energy to serve over 80,000 households and will prevent the emission of 300,000 tons of CO2 every year. The plant, which is one of the largest in the world, also includes a 2.5-hour thermal energy storage system to assist in meeting evening peak demand.

Mott MacDonald helped the project achieve financial close in 2012 by undertaking technical, environmental, social and permitting reviews and solar resource, energy yield and site assessments. The consultancy also reviewed the project’s financial model and implementation schedule, as well as power purchase agreement and engineering, procurement & construction and operation & maintenance contracts. During construction, Mott MacDonald monitored the plant’s progress against the baseline construction schedule by undertaking regular site visits, signing off on drawdown requests and reviewing variation proposals.

Stavros Tassos, Mott MacDonald’s project director, said: “Being the first CSP plant to enter commercial operation in the country, KaXu is already playing a key role in helping the South African government achieve its goal of introducing up to 17,800MW of renewable energy by 2030.”

“Mott MacDonald is a market leader for CSP technology around the world. To date, we have supported lenders on five of the seven CSP projects that have been successful under the country’s REIPPP programme, including the Xina plant also in Pofadder where we are currently monitoring construction,” Stavros added.
Mott MacDonald ( is a diverse £1.3 billion global management, engineering and development firm. As one of the world’s largest employee-owned companies with over 16,000 staff, we have 180 offices in nearly 50 countries and projects in 150.

Our 1400-strong power consulting team operates across all sectors of the energy industry, working with national governments, utilities, industrial companies, investors, developers, contractors and funding agencies all around the world. Our services include feasibility and scoping studies, detailed design, plant specification and tender review, contract negotiations, project management and involvement in plant enhancement studies during the operations phase. Our technical advisory services encompass all technical, commercial, financial, social and environmental aspects of a project on behalf of owners or lenders.

Recent power sector projects include:

Tarbela 4th Extension Hydropower, Pakistan – we carried out detailed design and supervised construction of a new hydropower station and tunnel at the iconic Tarbela Dam, enabling water used already for irrigation to be used for electricity generation as well.

Chaglla Hydroelectric, Peru – as independent engineer we are monitoring construction of a US$1.2bn project to build hydropower facility which will be Peru’s third largest.

Samra combined cycle power station, Jordan – we were detailed design engineer for a project to improve energy efficiency at a 290MW plant through a 143MW combined cycle retrofit.

Huay Bong 207MW wind farm, Thailand – we successfully supported the project lenders from due diligence to commercial operation as independent engineer for the first utility-scale wind farm in Thailand, which is also the largest wind farm in south east Asia.

San Pedro III solar plant, Chile – we’re monitoring construction of the US$104 million, 55MW solar photovoltaic (PV) facility that is part of an ambitious programme to deliver 150MW of PV power in the local area.

Steven’s Croft biomass power station, UK – we project managed this development, from design and construction supervision to commission and take over. The 44MW plant supplies the electrical needs of 70,000 Scottish homes, displacing around 140,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Lake Turkana wind power, Kenya – lenders’ technical advisor on behalf of a pool of lenders for a 310MW wind farm project. Once constructed, the wind farm will be the largest in Africa and will provide as much as 16% of electricity generated in Kenya.

220kV Submarine Cables, Shannon Estuary and Cork Harbour, Ireland – we undertook various feasibility, design and cable routing studies of subsea cable transmission systems across Ireland for the transmission system operator, EirGrid Plc.

Energy and water regulatory agency, Botswana – we helped the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources develop a regulatory framework and legislation designed to attract private capital into infrastructure investment.

Song Bung 4 hydropower, Vietnam – we are acting as owner’s engineer and technical advisor on behalf of Electricity Vietnam for the 156MW Song Bung 4 hydropower project.

Mott MacDonald was named Sustainability Champion 2015, Global Consultant of the Year 2014 and International Consultant of the Decade 2003-2013 by the UK’s New Civil Engineer/Association for Consultancy and Engineering. We have been ranked No.1 for nearly three years in the Infrastructure Journal Global Technical Advisor league tables and were named Global Technical Advisor of the Year 2014.

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Tom Smith
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Danielle Mendel
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