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The status and outlook of CSP in SA presented at SAIREC


The Southern Africa Solar Thermal and Electricity Association (SASTELA) attended South African International Renewable Energy Conference which was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 4-7 October.

The status of CSP in SA was presented by Chairman, Dr. Louis van Heerden and an Outlook on CSP as dispatchable-, baseload- and peaking electricity generation technology was presented by Vice Chairman, Pancho Ndebele.  SASTELA shared these presentations, as well as the Issue Paper of the Outlook on CSP as grid-based technology by Pancho Ndebele.


The Helio100 project is making headlines

The TIA Helio100 project, is a CSP technology development project and involves the design and construction of a 150 kW thermal pilot facility.  The project started in April 2014 and the Helio100 team consists out of 16 members of which several are STERG members.  The Helio100 pilot facility is currently in its final stage of integration and the facility is also the official technical tour of SolarPACES 2015.

Initiated by the article by Jeff Barbee in the Guardian, the Helio100 project featured in several local and international online newspapers.  Stellenbosch University also produced a video on the project and published an article on Helio100 on the university’s website.

STERG is proud to have this project come out of the research group and encourages all members to realize the relevance of their/our work.

To learn more about the Helio100 team and project, visit their website.


CSP featuring on Carte Blanche

Prof Wikus van Niekerk, director of the Centre of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies, was interviewed on Carte Blanche on the role of CSP in South Africa.

WvN_Carte Blanche

The status and benefits of the REIPPPP and the capacity of renewable energy in South Africa are also discussed in the story on CSP, and Louis van Heerden (Abengoa) and Saliem Fakier (WWF-SA) are among others that were  interviewed. The CSP feature by Carte Blanche aired on 16 August 2015 and can be viewed on the Carte Blance website.

Stellio heliostat confirmed best-in-class

The Stellio heliostat developed by schlaich bergermann und partner (sbp), holds its ground through technical economic studies that evaluated its efficacy and cost-efficiency.


“After months of tests Stellio heliostat confirms unprecedented optical quality. The sbp sonne team is thrilled to obtain formal recognition for what is known to be the best-in-class heliostat technology internationally available.”

Further reading: the article and more information on the Stellio heliostat.

Doug Banks Renewable Energy Vision Scholarship

A two year Scholarship is available to study towards a Masters degree in Renewable Energy Studies at a South African University, commencing in 2016.   Students should be from a background of engineering, science, technology, built environment, or law.

· Only South African citizens or permanent residents may apply
· Application via the website
· Closing date Friday 18 September 2015

View the flyer or go to to apply and for more information.

WWF Renewable Energy Vision

The World Wide Fund for Nature in South Africa (WWF-SA) identified the continued reliance on coal to generate more than two-thirds of the country’s electricity as a threat to natural resources such as land and water, which are critical to the agricultural sector and will consequently present increased challenges in terms of the food-energy-water nexus. As a result of this concern, WWF-SA proposes an increase in the percentage of RE generation capacity into the South African system to achieve between 11% and 19% of generation capacity from renewable sources as opposed to the 6-9% share proposed in the IRP 2010 Update from 2030.

The Centre of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies and STERG was contracted to do the spatial-temporal modelling and compilation of this report which tests the scenarios proposed in  WWF-SA”s  Renewable Energy Vision Report for 2030 (2014).  The RE Vision Report was used as a starting point to test the technical and cost (techno-economic) feasibility and merits of the scenarios that the vision report proposes.

The full techno-feasibility report is now available from the Energy divison of WWF-SA’s website and from STERG’s Publications page.

WWF-SA’s Energy division has also published other reports on Renewable Energy in SA, and include the following:

Resolving this crisis requires a complete transformation of the way in which South Africa produces and consumes energy. It requires an energy system that is flexible, resilient, can accommodate technology shifts for innovative and cost effective applications, and has minimal impact on land, water and the environment.” – WWF-SA


3rd Annual STERG Symposium well attended

The third annual STERG symposium was held at in the Knowledge Centre of the Engineering Faculty of Stellenbosch University on 14 and 15 July 2015.  The first day of the STERG symposium was also the last day of the fifth annual Renewable Energy Postgraduate Symposium held by the Centre of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies.

On the first day of the STERG symposium thirteen postgraduate students and post-doctoral researchers presented on various CSP research topics.  On the second day of the symposium individuals from industry presented on CSP in South Africa.

The symposium was ended with a panel discussion by representatives from CSP project developers, ACWA and Abengoa, as well as Eskom, STERG and Helio100, a CSP technology development project funded by the Technology Innovation Agency.

The opening question of the panel discussion was on how to get CSP local in South Africa.

The reality and level of contribution needed to establish a local CSP industry was captured in the diverse inputs from the panel members.  The transferring of skills, training and development of engineers for CSP projects at University level as well as the need for local technology development companies is fundamental to laying a strong foundation for a local industry.  Increasing the amount of projects available to project developers as well as the capacity allocated to CSP in the Integrated Resource Plan to 10 000 MW is needed in order to show the real potential for investment.  South Africa’s potential as one of the best sunspots on the planet further contributes to the country’s opportunity to supply to a CSP market catering to all southern African countries and also the rest of the world.  Furthermore, a comment was made about the local content requirement for projects developed through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer’s Procurement Programme and that this could be increased to further benefit local companies, given local options are financially more attractive than what can be imported.

The second question of the panel discussion was on the role universities have to play in relation to industry.

Apart from producing engineers for the workforce, universities are ultimately equipped for innovation and blue-sky research which should be viewed as indispensable to industry.  Funding that enables these activities are however a constraint at the moment.  Continuous research to investigate opportunities for cost reduction in CSP is also invaluable to the industry and especially to the contribution of establishing a CSP industry in South Africa.  From witnessing the cost reduction of wind, a project developer with experience in renewable in Europe, commented that it can be expected that CSP will also follow a path of cost reduction and capacity increase.  Although CSP is more expensive than wind and PV power at the moment, it is already comparable with new conventional base load technologies such as nuclear and coal and even cheaper than current mid-merit and peak-load electricity generation options.

The discussion concluded that universities should continue to approach industries with innovative ideas in component and system developments with the option of industry role-players to also invest in funding.  The role of academic institutions also remains relevant in providing guidance to government and in identifying how CSP can provide solutions to problems related to power supply in the country.

Contributor:  Prof Frank Dinter, Director of STERG



2nd STERG Technical tour to Northern Cape

One week ago a number of STERG members completed a pleasant and informative technical tour to selected renewable energy plants in the Northern Cape.  The power plants and sites that were visited includes SERE wind farm, Konkoonsies 10 MW photovoltaic facility, Ripasso’s Stirling Dish site (photo), Kaxu, Xina and Khi Solar One CSP plants and also the Touwsrivier concentrated PV facility.

This was the second year that a group from STERG completed a renewable energy tour.  We would like to thank Eskom, Abengoa and Ripasso for their time to host the tour group during facility visits and contribution to the success of the tour.

Kaxu: Supporting the grid with CSP

South Africa’s first Concentrating Solar Power plant was connected to the grid in March this year.  This 100 MW plant is owned by Abengoa who is also complete Khi Solar One and Xina Solar One.  Xaxu represents a sixth of the generation capacity allocated to CSP through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme.

STERG was fortunate to visit Xaxu during a technical tour in 2014 and will repeat this tour at the end of June 2015.

Abengoa Kaxu July 2014  Pofadder Dinter IMG_0777

STERG tour group in front of a parabolic trough at Kaxu in 2014

Read the article, Xaxu – The whole blue sky as published in Environmental Management.