Abengoa SA (NASDAQ:ABGB) together with the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa and Khi Community Trust have achieved 24 consecutive hours of commercial operation powered only by solar energy in its Khi Solar One plant in Africa. The plant is Africa’s first thermal solar power plant as well as the first power plant to complete 24 hours of operation using solar energy.
The Khi Solar One plant is a unique type of thermal solar tower that uses a heated steam. Its capacity is enough to deliver clean energy to around 45,000 South African homes. The plant commenced commercial operation in early February.
The company has achieved the historical landmark because of the storage created by IDC, the research and development team of Abengoa and the Khi Community Trust. The system stores steam at high temperatures and pressure which results in the production of electricity after sunset. The system has the capacity of producing 50 MW for a couple of hours post sunset. The decrease in energy consumption at night lets the plant operate below the full power level. Employing this system, the operating unit in Khi Solar One has been successful in generating electricity for 24 hours utilizing only the steam produced by solar energy.
Khi Solar One is the culmination of considerable research and development spearheaded by Abengoa. The latter earlier operated a plant having a capacity of 5 MW situated at the Solucar. Expertise gathered from the running of the pilot plant enabled the optimization of relevant technology and was a reference for financing projects. All this effort led to the launch of a plant with superior performance, efficiency and production in terms of expense when benchmarked against earlier models.
The project also comes with several socioeconomic as well as environmental benefits. It gets rid of the generation of 183,000 tons of Carbon dioxide every year supplying the energy required to fulfill the increasing electricity demand of South Africa in a sustainable way. The plant has resulted in local economic progress with a big number of local ventures participating.