South African utility Eskom submitted two nuclear installation site license applications to the country’s nuclear regulator to build new reactors along the east and west coast.

Eskom was designated an owner and operator by the government, which reportedly plans to issue a request for proposals for 9,600 MW of new nuclear capacity by the end of March. According to Reuters, Eskom applied to potentially build reactors in Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape province and Duynefontein in the Western Cape province, according to Bloomberg. The regulator said in the article the Eskom mentioned its intent to build and operate multiple nuclear reactors.

Despite the country’s intention to build six nuclear reactors, the country is dealing with a period of low growth and facing a ratings downgrade to “junk” status that brings into question how it will pay costs estimated between 400 billion rand ($25 billion) and 1 trillion rand ($63 billion), the article said.

Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) is building a third unit at its Olkaria II geothermal power station. The plant is located about 100km northwest of Nairobi, the nation's capital. It taps the geothermal field in Kenya's Rift Valley. The 35MW turnkey expansion is being built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), and should go on-stream by the end of 2009. It will cost around $100m.


Kenya presently obtains more than 75% of its power from hydro. At the moment it has a surplus, but with the expected connection of 150,000 new power consumers annually, this is quickly depleting. The increased geothermal power will help reverse this and will expand Kenya's programme for rural electrification.


This is the sixth geothermal power plant that MHI has supplied to KenGen. Three 15MW units for Olkaria I went on stream in 1980s, and two 35MW units for Olkaria II in 2003.




Geothermal power is stable, unaffected by weather, and emits no CO2. Generation uses geothermal fluid, a mixture of high-temperature water and steam over 250°C extracted from deep underground reservoirs through production wells. The plant will have a steam turbine, condenser, generator, peripheral equipment, electrical facilities and a control system. The steam extracted from the fluid turns steam turbines.


The Olkaria reservoir is a two-phase liquid dominated one that is overlain by a thin steam-dominated zone 100–200m thick at 240°C. This zone is widest in the southeast and thins in the north. Above the steam zone is a caprock, which marks the top of the reservoir that lies 400–700m below the surface.


The vertical extent of the reservoir has not yet been established but is believed to be of the order of several hundred metres. Temperatures experienced by the wells are generally high (250°C) with a bottom hole temperature of about 300°C. The initial static water level varies from 400–700m.


MHI's Nagasaki Shipyard and Machinery Works is designing, manufacturing and installing the station. Mitsubishi Electric Corporation will supply a generator, and Mitsubishi Corporation is handling the trade particulars. The company has delivered geothermal plants to 14 countries worldwide, including Kenya, Japan, the US, Iceland and Costa Rica. Their collective power output is about 3,000MW.




The country experienced massive power rationing in 2000, partly caused by failure to implement planned projects on schedule. The original Olkaria plant increased Kenya's national power generation capacity at the time to 1,100MW, well above the country's then peak demand of 820MW. Despite the surplus capacity, however, the country suffers frequent power blackouts due to weak distribution systems.


Kenya Power and Lighting Company has been faced with serious shortages of transformers and high voltage switches. As a result, high voltage fluctuations and power outages have averaged 11,000 per month. Apart from causing material damage, these outages contributed to low productivity, thus affecting overall economic performance. So, an efficient power transmission and distribution system is now of priority concern to the Kenyan Government.


The original plant was built with support of the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the Federal Republic of Germany. The Kenyan Ministry of Energy discussed with the World Bank for at least $185m to be made available over a period of three years. The funds were planned largely to the upgrading of the distribution system and the Olkaria II extension.




Geothermal energy remains Kenya's most effective resource for competitive electricity production. A sum of at least KShs.3bn (€3m) is planned over five years for geothermal production. The Federal Republic of Germany has also agreed to provide €8.5m.


"A sum of at least KShs.3bn (€3m) is planned over five years for geothermal production."

Kenya has also been discussing accessing electricity from Zambia and Uganda, and aims to access 100MW from Zambia by 2008. The power transmission link with Zambia via Tanzania will enable Kenya to source power from other countries in the south as the demand grows. The Government is also looking to increase private sector participation in the energy sector. It intends to provide incentives to long-term investors in power production and supply.




Sinclair Knight Merz was awarded an overall consultancy contract in 1998 as owner's engineer and project manager for Olkaria II. This involved engineering design and supervision support on five major contracts – power plant, steam field engineering, site civil works, switchyards and transmission lines.


In the initial phase of the project, design reviews recommended several technical changes, with the cost being justified by through-life value analysis techniques. These included changing the turbine hall structure from concrete to steel and incorporating more modern building materials.


Plant changes included the use of modern canned pumps instead of barometric sealing pits, and a change in the type of cooling tower, saving on both the capital cost of the cooling tower and the civil works associated with a smaller footprint.


Jasper solar power project is a 96MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant being developed in Northern Cape Province near Kimberly in South Africa. The plant will become one of the biggest solar power plants in Africa, upon completion.


The project will be developed and operated by California-based solar developer SolarReserve and its consortium partners Kensani and Intikon Energy. The project is designed to operate for more than 25 years.


The plant will generate clean, renewable energy sufficient to power more than 30,000 homes in South Africa. It is expected to offset 145,891t of carbon dioxide every year from the atmosphere.


Jasper solar power plant details


The Jasper solar power project is located adjacent to the 75MW Lesedi solar PV power plant which is expected to be operational by mid-2014.


"The Jasper solar project will be spread over in 180ha and comprise of more than 325,000 Yingli YL295P-35b multi-crystalline modules with a peak power rating of 295W."

The Jasper solar project will be spread over in 180ha and comprise of more than 325,000 Yingli YL295P-35b multi-crystalline modules with a peak power rating of 295W.


The plant will also feature 78 INGECON® SUN PowerMax central inverters with 1MW AC rated power. The inverter is equipped with an advanced air cooling system, which helps in providing 1,019kW of peak power at temperatures up to 45ºC. The inverters comprise of a group of radial fans that provide air circulation inside the equipment thereby increasing its performance.


Development details and benefits of the South African solar power project


South African Department of Energy initiated the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) to fulfil its commitment of developing 8,400MW of solar PV energy by 2030.


The consortium of SolarReserve, Kensani and Intikon Energy was awarded the Jasper project in the second round of the REIPPPP. It is the third project being undertaken by the consortium after the Lesedi and Letsatsisolar photovoltaic power plants which have an installed capacity of 75MW each.


"Apart from generating clean sustainable energy, the Jasper solar power plant will also promote economic development and help in job creation."

Apart from generating clean sustainable energy, the Jasper solar power plant will also promote economic development and help in job creation. It is expected to create approximately 300 construction, and 50 permanent and operational jobs in addition to a number of indirect and induced jobs.


The project also planned to set aside a portion of the total projected revenues for promoting the enterprise and socio-economic development of the surrounding regions.


Power transmission

The entire power generated at the Jasper solar power project will be sold to Eskom, South Africa's state-owned power utility, under a 20-year power purchase agreement.


Financing for the Jasper solar power plant

The total investment on the Jasper solar power plant is estimated to be ZAR 2.3bn (approximately $260m). Kensani Eaglestone Capital Advisory acted as the financial adviser for the project.


The project is being financed through a combination of equity and debt. The equity investment was made by a group of companies including Google, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Kensani Capital Investments, SolarReserve, Intikon, Development Bank of South Africa, and the P.E.A.C.E. Humansrus Fund. Rand Merchant Bank also partly financed the project and also acted as the sole mandated lead arranger for the debt funding requirements.


Baker & McKenzie acted as the legal advisor for the financing.


Contractors involved


The construction contract worth $150m was awarded to the consortium of Iberdrola and South African company Group Five. The contractual scope also includes the plant development, the transformer substation and a 132kV overhead power line, feeder lines, as well as plant operation and maintenance over the next 15 years.


Iberdrola subcontracted Yingli Green Energy for the supply of the PV modules. Ingeteam is the supplier of inverters, and control system for the Jasper PV plant.

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