A consortium led by French multinational electric utility company Engie has achieved financial close on the 100MW Kathu Solar Park project in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.

Developed by the consortium, the park is sponsored by the SIOC Community Development Trust, Lereko Metier, Public Investment, Investec Bank, and the Kathu Local Community Trust. Lenders on the project are Rand Merchant Bank, Nedbank Capital, ABSA Capital, Investec, and the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

UK-based multidisciplinary consultancy Mott MacDonald is the lenders' technical advisor on the scheme, which achieved preferred bidder status in round 3.5 of the South African Government's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme.

Mott MacDonald will now be responsible for monitoring construction and operations of the solar project in an ongoing role. The company's solar team leader Stavros Tassos said: "Our role in this successful project provides further evidence of our world-class capability in the concentrated solar power (CSP) sector.

"We have ongoing roles in all seven CSP projects awarded under the REIPPP programme to date and we look forward to the continuing development of the sector in South Africa."

"Kathu Solar Park is expected to be connected to the grid by the end of 2018."

The 100MW solar park will make use of parabolic trough technology with four and a half hours of thermal energy storage.

Once in operation, Kathu Solar Park will have the capacity to supply 80,000 households across South Africa and will help reduce carbon emissions by 300,000t every year.

The solar project is expected to be connected to the grid by the end of 2018, supplying clean and dispatchable electricity to the South African power utility Eskom under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

The park is expected to create more than 1,200 jobs at the peak construction, with a further provision of 70 opportunities during its operational phase.

Image: Parabolic trough mirrors. Photo: courtesy of Mott MacDonald / Precise Media.