Solar Goes to Space

Solar has gone to space. SolAero Technologies has announced that 32 of its SolAero solar panels populated with high-efficiency triple-junction ZTJ solar cells are powering the four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission spacecraft that launched successfully on March 12, 2015 aboard the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SolAero Solor Panels on MMS spacecraftThe MMS will study magnetic reconnection, a fundamental process that occurs throughout the universe when magnetic fields connect and disconnect explosively, releasing energy and accelerating particles up to nearly the speed of light. Unlike previous missions that have observed only evidence of magnetic reconnection events, MMS has sufficient resolution to observe and measure reconnection events as they occur. While MMS will fly through reconnection regions in less than a second, key sensors on each spacecraft are able to capture measurements 100 times faster than any previous mission. In addition, MMS consists of four identical observatories, which together will provide the first ever three-dimensional view of magnetic reconnection.

SolAreo said this mission is unprecedented. Building four spacecraft at the same time – something that had never before been done at Goddard – required a unique set of engineering, management and production skills. In addition, SolAero said they provided solar panels for each spacecraft designed and built at the highest efficiency and to the highest standards necessary for a successful mission.

Solar Impulse 2 Takes to the Skies

Solar Impulse 2 has set off on a 35,000-kilometer journey around the world, powered only by solar energy. Schindler, a leading global elevator and escalator provider, is one of the project’s four main partners and welcomed the aircraft as it stops over at the Mandalay International Airport in Mandalay, Myanmar.

The Solar Impulse 2 is a single-seater aircraft made of carbon fiber, with a 72 meter wingspan – larger than that of the Boeing 747 – weighting just 2,300 kg. The 17,248 solar Solar Impulse 2 eighteenth flightcells built into the wing supply four electric motors (17.5 CV each) with renewable energy. During the day, the solar cells recharge lithium batteries, weighing 633 kg, that allow the aircraft to fly at night and therefore to have virtually unlimited autonomy.

The aircraft took off from Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015 and will stop at 12 locations. The route includes stops in Muscat, Oman; Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India; Mandalay, Myanmar; and Chongqing and Nanjing, China. After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii, Solar Impulse 2 will fly across the USA stopping in three locations –Phoenix, a location in the Midwest and New York City at JFK. After crossing the Atlantic, the final legs include a stop-over in Southern Europe or North Africa before arriving back in Abu Dhabi. With the plane traveling at a maximum speed of 90 to 140 km/h, depending on the flying altitude, the journey will take five months to complete, including 25 days of flight time.

Schindler, which has been operating in Myanmar since 1999, is proud to participate in the project. “This is a historic moment and we are delighted to be part of a team that shares Solar Impulse takes-off from Varanasi to Mandalaythe same pioneering spirit and passion for engineering excellence, with the common objective to move people safely while using less energy,” said Jujudhan Jena, Chief Executive of Jardine Schindler Group.

Solar Impulse’s founders have welcome Schindler’s participation as an important illustration of how forward-looking companies are approaching sustainable development and seeing the industrial potential of using clean technology and renewable energy.

“Our partnership with Solar Impulse exemplifies our longstanding dedication to invest in clean technologies for sustainable mobility,” added Jena. “Just like those of the Solar Impulse team, the intensive efforts made by our R&D teams over the years have given birth to ground-breaking solutions that have redefined industry standards.”

North Carolina Leads Path to Solar

North Carolina installed the second most new U.S. solar power capacity in 2014 according to the report released this week, “Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review”. America’s 12th state is poised to become the first in the South to exceed 1 gigawatt (GW) of installed solar.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.42.27 AMIn 2014, North Carolina added 397 megawatts (MW) of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 953 MW – just 47 MW short of cracking the 1 GW barrier. The report also demonstrated that North Carolina’s biggest solar gains came in utility-scale installations. Of the new capacity added, 390 MW were utility scale, 4 MW were residential and 3 MW were commercial. Together, these installations represented a $652 million investment in the state in 2014.

“North Carolina is a case study of how solar works as well on the East Coast as it does on the West Coast – with the Tar Heel State now having more installed solar capacity than Oregon and Washington combined,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “To put the state’s remarkable progress in some context, the 953 MW installed today in North Carolina is more than our entire country had installed by 2007. That’s an amazing achievement.”

North Carolina’s notable solar projects include:

  • Apple’s Data Center Solar Farm in Maiden was developed by SunPower. This photovoltaic (PV) project has the capacity to generate 20 MW of electricity — enough to power more than 2,200 North Carolina homes.
  • At 20 MW, Capital Partners Solar Project is among the largest solar installations in North Carolina. Recently completed by SunEnergy, this PV project has enough electric capacity to power nearly 2,000 homes.
  • Several large retailers in North Carolina have also gone solar, including Verizon, SAS and IKEA.
  • Apple has installed one of the largest corporate PV systems in the state with 20 MW of solar capacity at its location in Maiden.

The residential market began to show some promise in 2014 with installed system prices dropping again – and down a total of 49 percent since 2010. But the big driver in the state’s solar market has been in utility-scale installations. A recent study by Duke University found that North Carolina now has 150 utility-scale solar facilities, with another 377 facilities planned. “Our assessment of the North Carolina utility-scale solar value chain finds that at least $2 billion in direct investment has been made in the state, affecting at least 4,307 direct jobs in 450 companies,” the report stated.

Utilities Show Appetite for Solar & Energy Storage

A new paper released from research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance has found that North American utility companies focused on two sectors in 2014: advanced energy storage and solar. Analysts tracked 52 clean energy requests for proposals (RFPs) released in 2014, and found that solar dominated the field with more than 27 RFPs, and that Western states sought the most capacity. The white paper details several trends including:

  • Solar dominated the market, both in capacity (1.8GW) and quantity (27 RFPs). There was also a significant amount of interest (at least 12 RFPs) in energy smart technologies, particularly energy storage.
  • Western states represented the biggest region for RFPs, with 1GW being requested. The Southeast was the second-largest region in terms of capacity requested, almost all of it solar.
  • Wisconsin-based Alliant made the biggest splash in capacity sought with a single RFP.
  • Collectively, the US armed forces issued seven RFPs.
Bloomberg Energy Research Utility RFP study

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance, companies issuing RFP’s.

“The data reveals particularly strong interest in energy storage,” said Will Nelson, head of analysis for Bloomberg New Energy Finance in North America. “Interestingly, most storage RFPs are looking for a relatively small amount of capacity, evidence that these may be initial experimental forays into a rapidly changing sector.”

Nelson said RFPs are a leading indicator for trends in the utility industry because they are solicitations issued by companies to potential vendors. The issuers of RFPs specify the products or services they are seeking. In response, bidders submit proposals, competing against each other on the basis of pricing, capabilities, and other factors. In the world of clean energy, RFPs could involve procurement for renewable electricity-generating capacity or for technologies to make the grid more flexible or resilient.

“For project sponsors and equipment vendors, RFPs are the lifeblood of their business development efforts,” added Mark Taylor, product manager for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “They also give an early but concrete glimpse into which sectors are catching the eye of the market, and about the strategic direction of utilities and other energy-consuming organizations.”

Lund U Trying to Produce Solar Fuel

Several researchers have come a step closer to producing solar fuel using artificial photosynthesis. The Lund University team has successfully tracked the electrons’ rapid transit through a light-converting molecule. The goal of the study is to discover a way to make fuel from water using sunlight, similar to photosynthesis. Researchers around the world are attempting to borrow ideas from photosynthesis in order to find a way to produce solar fuel artificially.

Our study shows how it is possible to construct a molecule in which the conversion of light to chemical energy happens so fast that no energy is lost as heat. This means that all the energy in the light is stored in a molecule as chemical energy,” said Villy Sundström, professor of Chemical Physics at Lund University.

Lund University Solar Fuel researchToday solar energy is harnessed in solar cells and solar thermal collectors. Solar cells convert solar energy to electricity and solar thermal collectors convert solar energy to heat. However, producing solar fuel, for example in the form of hydrogen gas or methanol, requires entirely different technology. The idea is that solar light can be used to extract electrons from water and use them to convert light energy to energy rich molecules, which are the constituent of the solar fuel.

“A device that can do this – a solar fuel cell – is a complicated machine with light-collecting molecules and catalysts,” said Sundström. Continue reading

U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Hot off the Press

The latest U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review has been released and solar had another banner year. Newly installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity for the year reached a record 6,201 megawatts, more than 30 percent higher than in 2013. An additional 767 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) also came online during 2014. Solar accounted for 32 percent of the nation’s new generating capacity in 2014, beating out both wind energy and coal for the second year in a row. Only natural gas constituted a greater share of new generating capacity. The report was released by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The solar industry broke the gigawatt (GW) level in 2011 and in 2014, 3.9 GW of utility-scale sized solar power projects came online with an additional 14 GW under contract. The commercial segment in the U.S. also first installed more than 1 GW 2014 PV Installations by Statein 2011 but has not shared the same success as the utility-scale segment. In 2014, the commercial segment installed just over 1 GW, down 6 percent from 2013. The report notes, “Many factors have contributed to this trend, ranging from tight economics to difficulty financing small commercial installations.” But GTM Research expects 2015 to be a bounce-back year for the commercial segment, highlighted by a resurgence in California.

The U.S. residential segment’s 1.2 GW in 2014 marks its first time surpassing 1 GW. Residential continues to be the fastest-growing market segment in the U.S., with 2014 marking three consecutive years of greater than 50 percent annual growth.

“Without question, the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has helped to fuel our industry’s remarkable growth. Today the U.S. solar industry has more employees than tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter combined,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “Since the ITC was passed in 2006, more than 150,000 solar jobs have been created in America, and $66 billion has been invested in solar installations nationwide. We now have 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity – enough to power 4 million U.S. homes – and we’re helping to reduce harmful carbon emissions by 20 million metric tons a year. By any measurement, the ITC has been a huge success for both our economy and environment.”

GTM Research forecasts the U.S. PV market to grow 31 percent in 2015. The utility segment is expected to account for 59 percent of the forecasted 8.1 GW of PV.

Today Natural Gas Rush, Tomorrow High Bills

According to a new report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), consumers and businesses are becoming increasingly vulnerable to higher electricity bills due to increased natural gas bills. As such, USC calls for more energy efficiency and renewable energy resources like solar and wind to be integrated into the U.S. grid. This would help insulate against economic risks tied to one energy source, while diversify the power energy mix.

The Natural Gas Gamble,” finds that the power sector is leading the country into a danger zone by favoring natural gas over renewables and energy efficiency options.

“There’s a well-documented history of volatility in natural gas prices,” said Jeff Deyette, senior energy analyst at UCS and report co-author. “Increasing demand, extreme weather energy-cover-natural-gas-gambleevents, and uncertainties about available gas supplies can cause prices to spike dramatically. For example, last winter when the Polar Vortex brought bitter cold to much of the U.S., prices in some regions jumped 10- to 12-times higher than recent lows. Despite the recent surge in natural gas production, these trends could continue and leave consumers that rely on natural gas paying the price.”

The analysis also found that if renewables made up a much greater share of the U.S. electricity mix and were combined with investments in energy efficiency, electricity prices would stabilize and consumers would ultimately pay less for their energy. Factoring in the limit on carbon emissions and strong renewable energy and energy efficiency policies at both the federal and state levels, by 2040 renewables could make up nearly 40 percent of the electricity mix and consumers would see an annual net savings of $59 billion (in 2013 dollars).

“Businesses and shareholders may also see their bottom lines negatively affected if utilities continue to expand natural gas in their electricity mix,” Deyette added. “Cleaner-burning natural gas can help in the transition away from coal to cleaner electricity generation sources. However, simply substituting dependence on one fossil fuel for another is a dead end that ultimately limits our ability to slow climate change and safeguard consumers.”

The UCS report concludes that as the nation moves away from coal, enacting a breadth of policies to ensure a diverse supply of low-carbon power sources—made up primarily of renewable energy and energy efficiency, with a more balanced role for natural gas—would protect consumers’ pocketbooks and the environment.

Researchers Combine Biomass, Solar Conversion

Photo: UW-Madison Chemistry Department

Photo: UW-Madison Chemistry Department

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have come up with a new approach to combine solar energy conversion and biomass conversion.

In a study published this week in Nature Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison chemistry Professor Kyoung-Shin Choi and postdoctoral researcher Hyun Gil Cha discussed their research to split water into hydrogen, a clean fuel, and oxygen using photoelectrochemical solar cells (PECs).

They developed a novel PEC setup with a new anode reaction. This anode reaction requires less energy and is faster than water oxidation while producing an industrially important chemical product. The anode reaction they employed in their study is the oxidation of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) to 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA). HMF is a key intermediate in biomass conversion that can be derived from cellulose — a type of cheap and abundant plant matter. FDCA is an important molecule for the production of polymers.

“When we first started this study, we were not sure whether our approach could be really feasible,” Choi says. “However, since we knew that the impact of the study could be high when successful, we decided to invest our time and effort on this new research project at the interface of biomass conversion and solar energy conversion.”

Read more from UMW.

El Cielo Winery Soaks in the Sun

The El Cielo Winery in Baja, California is soaking up the sun with the addition of a 53.9 kW solar system. The rooftop and carport system is comprised of 220 Kyocera 245 watt solar modules and is expected to offset nearly 75 percent of the winery’s energy needs, saving the between $1,000-$1,200 per month.

“The use of solar energy must be a priority not only for wineries, but also for all businesses,” said Gustavo Ortega, general director of El Cielo. “We chose Kyocera panels because of their longstanding, proven reliability and local production right here in Baja. In this way, we keep more jobs here in our own state.”

El Cielo DedicationThe winery and its associated restaurant have also adopted energy efficient LED lighting with automated motion sensors, thermal materials, solar tubes and reclaimed water for landscaping as further examples of how environmental impact can be minimized. Ortega said that his goal is the bring best practices to the wind industry in the U.S. and Mexico.

Solar was a crucial element for El Cielo according to Ortega. Just one year into operations, the winery is one of the region’s most popular, with a photovoltaic system that includes both rooftop panels and a carport to shade vehicles while simultaneously producing renewable energy from the region’s abundant sunshine.

“El Cielo represents best practices in the wine tourism industry, proving that being environmentally friendly can enhance a winery’s popularity and profitability,” added Cecilia Aguillon, director of marketing for Kyocera Solar Inc. “Kyocera enjoys a special relationship with Baja California, having manufactured solar modules in Tijuana for more than a decade. We’re honored to support this important project in the region.”

EIA Reports Renewable Energy Sees Gain

Net electrical generation from non-hydro renewable energy sources increased by 10.9 percent over the previous year (2013), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest “Electric Power Monthly“. The solar contribution to net electrical generation more than doubled (102.8%) while wind grew by 8.3 percent, biomass by 5.7 percent, and geothermal by 5.4 percent.

Comparatively speaking, nuclear power and coal increased by only 1.0% and 0.3% respectively while electrical generation using natural gas dropped by 0.3 percent. Conventional hydropower also declined by 3.7 percent. Net electrical generation from all energy sources combined increased by 0.7 percent in 2014 compared to 2013.

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During the last decade, electrical generation from non-hydro renewables has more than tripled. And, significantly, 2014 was the first year in which non-hydro renewables provided more electrical generation than did hydropower (281,060 thousand MWh vs. 258,749 thousand MWh).

Including hydropower, EIA reports that renewable energy sources accounted for 13.19 percent of net U.S. electrical generation in 2014 (hydropower – 6.32%, wind – 4.44%, biomass – 1.57%, solar – 0.45%, and geothermal – 0.41%). These numbers, however, almost certainly understate renewable energy’s actual contribution to the nation’s electrical supply because EIA does not fully account for electricity generated by distributed and off-grid renewable energy systems (e.g., rooftop solar).

“Given current growth rates – especially for solar and wind, it is quite possible that renewable energy sources will reach, or exceed, 14% of the nation’s electrical supply by the end of 2015,” said Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “That is a level that EIA, only a few years ago, was forecasting would not be achieved until the year 2040.”

Calling Energy Entrepreneurs

Calling student energy entrepreneurs. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $2.5 million in funding for the Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP), which hopes to inspire the next generation of clean energy gurus. This funding opportunity will support the commercialization of promising technologies for sectors such as solar and wind that reduce carbon pollution and grow the clean energy economy.

According to DOE, the goal of the Cleantech UP is to create a strong national infrastructure focused on collegiate high-tech entrepreneurship that accelerates the rate of clean energy innovWind Turbine in Northern Iowaation in the U.S, while also establishing a national Cleantech UP Hub. The program will support up to eight Cleantech UP Collegiate Competitions.

The Cleantech UP Hub will create a national prize, train student entrepreneurs, and serve as a coordinating body for energy entrepreneurship training, while the Cleantech UP Collegiate Competitions will provide prizes for eight individual university-focused competitions that will equip students with business skills to move clean energy technologies from the discovery phase to the marketplace. Together, the Cleantech UP Hub and Cleantech UP Collegiate Competitions will form a strategic network that increases student entrepreneurs’ participation—both in quantity and quality—in clean energy, and addresses the existing gaps in early-stage commercialization training.

Cleantech UP will build on the success of its precursor, the Energy Department’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. More information can be found here.

Southwest Research Institute Award $4.9M

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) $4.9 million as part of a $9.9 million continuation contract to manufacture and test a high-efficiency supercritical CO2 (sCO2) hot gas turbo-expander and compact heat exchangers for concentrating solar power (CSP) plants. Dr. Klaus Brun, program director of the Machinery Program in SwRI’s Mechanical Engineering Division says this project is one of eight DOE-funded sCO2 power cycle projects currently in progress.

10 MW sCO2 Expander Turbine for DOE SunShot ProgramThe award was given through DOE’s SunShot Initiative and continues a previous DOE project to design the sCO2 expander. SwRI will lead a team of industry collaborators that includes Aramco Services Company, Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), General Electric, and Thar Energy.

According to SwRI the highly cyclical nature of CSP plant operation requires an sCO2 hot gas turbo-expander to operate at high temperatures and pressures over a wide range of load conditions while maintaining high efficiency, handling rapid transient heat input swings, and offering very fast start-up to optimize the plant’s online availability. Similar sCO2 expanders also have the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of waste heat recovery, nuclear and fossil-fueled power plants.

“Over the last two years, SwRI and its industry collaborators have developed a highly efficient, multi-stage axial flow sCO2 hot gas turbo-expander that advances the state of the art from laboratory size to a full mega-watt scale prototype,” says Dr. Jeff Moore, manager of the Rotating Machinery Dynamics Section in SwRI’s Mechanical Engineering Division, and principal investigator of the project.

A second objective of the project, according to SwRI, is to optimize novel compact heat exchangers for sCO2 applications to drastically reduce manufacturing costs. The scalable sCO2 expander design and improved heat exchanger will close two critical technology gaps and potentially provide a major pathway to achieve power at $0.06 per kilowatt hour, increasing energy conversion efficiency to more than 50 percent, and potentially reducing total power block cost to below $1,200 per kilowatt installed. Conventional steam-based CSP systems typically operate at less than 35 percent efficiency. These efficiencies also will allow solar plants to be competitive with conventional fossil-fueled power plants.

PACE Calls for Fair Solar in Louisiana

The Louisiana Public Service Commission has released a draft report that the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) says sheds “significant light” on the inequities caused by the state’s treatment of distributed solar generation. The report finds that the state’s current public subsidy for solar power is unsustainable but also that the net metering requirement for utilities is shifting considerable grid costs from solar customers to non-solar customers.

PACE is calling this “unfair” and wants the state to change its treatment of distributed solar. They cite several important conclusions found in the report:

  • More than $2 million in grid costs are being shifted to non-solar customers in Louisiana. This could grow to $31.4 million by 2020.
  • Costs associated with net metering in Louisiana far outweigh the benefits. The negative cost is already $89 million and is estimated to rise to between $125 million and $488 million.
  • Net metering customers have incomes on average 35% higher than non-solar customers, meaning the state’s net metering policy is shifting grid costs from those with more money to those with less.
  • Louisiana’s net metering policy could cause power customers to pay as much as $809 million more if it is left unchanged.
  • Louisiana’s taxpayer subsidy to solar customers has grown from an originally estimated half a million dollars annually to $42 million per year, making it one of the most generous in the nation.

PACE logoIn Louisiana, as in many other states, regulatory policy allows a small group of customers to use the power grid as a battery backup when they are unable to rely on their solar rooftop systems. However, PACE notes that these customers are unwilling to help pay for the cost of maintaining a reliable electricity grid in Louisiana. While solar is a valuable resource, says PACE, everyone should pay their fair share for the use of the power grid. Right now, as the report clearly shows, those costs are being shifted to less affluent non-solar customers, which is both unfair and unsustainable.

How to incorporate solar energy in way that is fair and benefits all electricity consumers is becoming a hot button issue around the country. For example, Arizona and New Mexico, fees for solar users have been viewed as solutions to this issue while Hawaii has recently lowered net metering rates. PACE is calling on Louisiana to review other states’ policies as a guide to create fairness.

FPL to Power Miami ePrix

Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) will be powering the electric vehicles (EVs) racing for first place with solar power. The inaugural event will take place in downtown Miami on March 14, 2015. Formula E is a new FIA single-seater championship and the first fully-electric race car series. It kicked off in Bejing last September and ends this June featuring 10 teams, each with two drivers, racing on city streets. The racing series was developed to showcase R&D and excitement around EVs and the Miami ePrix marks the first U.S. appearance of the series.

“Our partnership with Formula E and the Miami ePrix is another example of our commitment to advancing zero-emissions solar energy and the use of electric vehicles in Florida,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “By the end of 2016 we Formula E racing series in Buenos Aireswill triple the energy we are able to produce from the sun, furthering our mission to provide low-cost, reliable and clean energy to our 4.7 million customers.”

“It’s an honor for us to have been selected as one of the 10 founding Formula E teams for the inaugural season,” said Michael Andretti, chairman and CEO of Andretti Sports Marketing who participated in the announcement. “I look forward to bringing this exciting series to North America and joining an impressive field of competitors at the upcoming race in Miami.”

During the announcement, electric race cars were charged with power generated from the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, one of three solar power plants operated by FPL. Earlier this year, FPL announced plans to install more than 1 million solar panels at three additional solar power plants by the end of 2016. When combined with other community projects, FPL will triple its solar capacity, which currently totals approximately 110 megawatts.

“The Formula E Miami ePrix is all about sharing our passion for electric vehicles,” added Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holdings. “The race series is exciting, it’s entertaining, and we hope it will turn the world’s attention to the potential electric vehicles have to change the way we power transportation. We are pleased to partner with FPL – a company that shares our vision for powering the future with affordable, clean energy.”

Solar Plant Opens in Northern Cape Province

Abengoa and state-owned financier, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), together with KaXu Community Trust have launched a 100 MW solar plant – KaXu Solar One – near the town of Pofadder (Northern Cape Province). The new solar facility will power 80,000 homes in South Africa. The Department of Energy of South Africa awarded Abengoa the project. The power will be sold to the utility Eskom under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Representatives of the South African government, IDC and Abengoa during the grand opening of Kaxu Solar One.

Representatives of the South African government, IDC and Abengoa during the grand opening of Kaxu Solar One.

Minister of Economic Development, Mr Ebrahim Patel, officially inaugurated the solar power plant. He was accompanied by Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr. Bulelani Magwanishe, Premier of the Northern Cape, Silvia Lucas, executives of Abengoa and IDC and representatives of the local community.

Manuel Sanchez Ortega, Vice President and CEO of Abengoa, said of the project, “We are proud of the role we are playing to help South Africa meet its ongoing energy demands. This project will leave a legacy that will benefit the community of Pofadder, Northern Cape and the entire country. This would not have been possible without the leadership of the South African Department of Energy.”

KaXu Solar One, the first Solar Thermal Electricity (STE) power plant in South Africa, incorporates a storage system that enables production of 100 MW for 2.5 hours after sunset or before dawn. The project will result in approximately USD 891 million direct and indirect investment inflows to South Africa, generate approximately USD 516 million in taxes over the next 20 years.

Fadiel Farao, the Chairperson of the KaXu Community Trust, said KaXu Solar One will be a catalyst for economic development in the Khai Ma municipality in the Northern Cape. “The project has stimulated the local economy and will go a long way toward helping to generate much-needed economic opportunities for people in this area.” KaXu Community Trust is comprised of members of the local community.

Abengoa is building in the region Khi Solar One, a 50MW solar plant using tower technology and has already started the construction of a third project, Xina Solar One, a 100 MW parabolic trough plant. Xina Solar One will shape with KaXu Solar One the largest solar platform in sub-Saharan Africa.