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ACWA Power Solafrica Bokpoort CSP Power Plant www.acwapower.com


ACWA Power Solafrica Bokpoort CSP Power Plant

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he result of a joint venture between ACWA Power and Solafrica, the Bokpoort development won the second CSP bidding window of South Africa's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP). With a projected commercial operation date of 6 December 2015, work has progressed rapidly, with construction now having past the peak. As an emerging market utility company with more than 16,000MW in operation or construction, ACWA Power develops, owns and operates a range of power and water assets around the globe, with the Southern Cone of Africa being a key strategic growth market. At the forefront of this is the Bokpoort facility, which is set to be the only storable renewable energy facility with 1

utility-scale “load-following” capability, due to its 9.3 hours thermal energy storage capacity, in the region. “It's been fantastic so far. We had some issues with regards to the national metal industry strike that has caused some delays, but apart from that we've been doing reasonably well with the progress,” says Nandu D Bhula, CEO of ACWA Power Solafrica Bokpoort CSP. “I think, the biggest challenge we have had to overcome, was the ability to get local skills to the level that is expected in order to be productively employed and meet our socio-economic development objectives. We do have tough economic development obligations, and the initial hurdle was to get around that,” he continues. “But we


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successfully did, and we are doing reasonably well in terms of getting a very large proportion of our workforce from the local community, the !Kheis Municipality.” The skills shortage in South Africa has, unsurprisingly, presented some issues during the construction phases of the project. “On the one hand, you're trying to fulfil an economic development obligation and have a large proportion of the local community involved, but on the other hand, they don't necessarily have the skill sets at this stage for this type of construction and subsequent operations. It's a very rural community,” explains Bhula. “Difficulties finding the necessary skill sets nearby meant greater effort in on-the-job training and focus in upskilling through sponsoring technical training

courses at the existing local training center.” “The language barrier was also challenge. The EPC contractor and their supervision staff speak mainly Spanish, so it's difficult to communicate and develop the staff that is largely Afrikaans speaking. From a health and safety supervision perspective, it has been a challenge for us,” he explains. “We've put effort into having multilingual presentations done, and bringing in local health and safety individuals who understand the local legislations and then we've shared that from a management level down to the supervision. We've had to use different types of media to spread health and safety messages,” he continues. “That includes setting up things like animated story books that have specific site safety 2


messages in it. So we've complemented our multilingual communication efforts with pictorial tutoring; and that has aided us in our efforts.” Once completed, the plant will have the largest amount of thermal energy storage in the world in its class. “We've got heat transfer fluid travelling around 180 loops of solar field with 658,000m2 of reflective surface or mirrors, with a large quantity of molten salt storage which is new for this country in terms technology. So, from that perspective, I think it is very important that we have really welltrained operators to mitigate the risks in terms of managing the operation and maintenance of the plant,” explains Bhula. “The rest of the power block is stock-standard steam power generation, and South Africa has sufficient power plants in this area for us to be able to get experienced operators and 3


maintainers. It is just the thermal energy storage and solar field heat transfer that requires us to put a little more effort into getting people trained up so that we are confident that we can manage those going forward safely.” The Project's major shareholder is ACWA Power from Saudi Arabia, and the group values are aligned towards dealing with socio-economic issues in the areas they are investing in, aimed at addressing poverty and contributing to social upliftment. “The ACWA Power model is not one where the owner comes in and builds a project and then runs away with the profits,” says Bhula. “Furthermore, projects of this nature, typically start injecting funds into communities as part of their CSI commitments after revenues start coming in but not in our case, we have started investing in our community from the onset and plan to contribute for the long-term.” ACWA Power's attention in this respect has been primarily on boosting skills — providing computers to schools, training the local communities, and giving out bursaries to start technical training in the area. Furthermore, given the rural nature of the communities, there were many families in the local areas without water or electricity, a matter of high importance that ACWA Power naturally addressed when they first focused their attention on the area. “We've done a full analysis on the socioeconomic challenges in the area. There were kids who could not study because they had no lights, and essentially their whole lifestyle were constrained as a result. So, with the donation of PV panels to a local Duineveldt community, we've brought

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I think, the biggest challenge we have had to overcome, was the ability to get local skills to the level that is expected in order to be productively employed and meet our socio-economic development objectives

light into their homes, people's lifestyles have changed, kids can study at night without needing candlelight, they are doing better in school and already have possibilities of improving their livelihoods. Aside from this, our topline water reticulation project has delivered potable water for the first time to the homes of over 77 residence in the area. This is ACWA Power's mission through projects like Bokpoort and others to follow. It's not just about solar development, it's about a longterm commitment to the community.” Looking to the future, ACWA Power has a well-developed strategy towards building a multi-fuel, multi-technology generation portfolio of around 4,000 MW in the Southern African region. For scale, South Africa's generation target for the entire REIPPP scheme is 3,725 MW. “It is ambitious, but I don't think that it's seriously out of our reach because we have a very aggressive stance in that respect. Furthermore, if you ask me if 4,000 MW of solar energy development alone, in the Northern Cape and surrounds is ambitious, I say no. There is nothing stopping South Africa from doing so. We have a huge abundant solar resource, a hunger for renewable energy and the technology itself has high localisation potential and will only get cheaper and cheaper. This will bring


increased knowledge and competency in the industry and more importantly, jobs. We expect to spend over R1.6 billion in local content through the Bokpoort project alone,” says Bhula.

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Chris Ehlers, business director for ACWA Power Southern Africa further highlights ACWA Power's strategy going forward: “ACWA Power's focus countries are Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. We are fully committed as a private utility company with a very longterm approach. This includes the required capital as well”. He continues, “South Africa is seen as a hub for us to develop economically and expand our footprint. We have already committed to multiple projects in this region.”

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Contact Details Contact our office in South Africa Physical Address 3rd floor, Fredman Tower 13 Fredman Drive, 2196 Sandton Johannesburg South Africa Tel: +27 11 722 4100

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