Algeria has excellent solar resources of over 2,000 kWh/m2/yr direct sunlight. Nationally, the government has a goal to provide 10%-15% of energy from renewable resources by 2030. Beyond this, the Algerian government would like a close partnership with the European Union, in which Algerian plants deliver green energy needed for Europe to meet its energy and climate targets. A new company called New Energy Algeria was created to enhance participation of the local and international private sectors.
In March 2004, the Algerian government published the first feed-in law of any OECD country, with elevated tariffs for renewable power production in order to promote the production of solar electricity in integrated solar combined cycles. This decree sets premium prices for electricity production from ISCCS, depending on the solar share. A 5%-10% solar share can earn a 100% tariff, whilst a project with a solar share over 20% would receive up to 200% of the regular tariff.
In February 2015, Algeria’s Ministry of Energy announced plans which include the development of 2 GW of STE, 13.5 GW of solar PV and 5 GW of wind energy. Altogether, the Ministry is targeting the installation of 22 GW of renewable energy by 2030, of which 4.5 GW would be connected by 2020.
Algeria currently has one operational solar thermal power plant – the 25 MW Hassi-R’mel ISCC project developed by Abengoa, Cofides and New Energy Algeria.
Egypt lies within the Sun Belt area, where DNI ranges between 2,000 kWh/m2/yr in the north and 3,200 kWh/m2/yr in the south. In February 2008, the Supreme Council of Energy set a target to generate 20% of the country’s electricity from renewable energy by 2020, including 12% from wind, 5.8% from hydro and 2.2% from solar (STE and PV).
Two pre-feasibility studies on parabolic-trough and central tower technologies were conducted in 1995 followed by a SolarPACES START mission in 1996. Following that, Egypt decided to build its first 150 MW ISCC system with a 30 MW PT solar field. The first phase detailed feasibility report was completed in 2000, followed by a short list of qualified and interested developers in 2001. The project stalled, however, due to the unexpectedly high exchange rate of US Dollar-to Egyptian Pound.
In mid-2003, the World Bank, as the main financial institution involved in this effort, decided to change its approach, allowing private sector participation in a 5-year ownership and maintenance contract. In 2007, contracts were awarded to Iberdrola and Mitsui and a consortium of Orascum and Flagsol to build the ISCC project at Kuraymat with a US$ 50 million grant under GEF-OP7. The plant was put into commercial operation in 2011. The capacity of the ISCC Kuraymat project is 140 MW, including a solar share of 20 MW. The solar field consists of 1,920 PT collector modules, arranged in 40 loops, with a total effective aperture area of 130,800 m2.
Egypt is currently developing its second STE project, the 100 MW Kom Ombo plant with PT technology in Upper. The development of the project is being led by NREA and is supported by the KfW, African Development Bank and the World Bank. The project is expected to be completed by 2017.
Plans for two additional solar thermal power plants have also been announced – the 250 MW Taqa STE Plant and the 30 MW Marse Alam. These two plants will be located in an area of Egypt where electricity demand is expected to increase significantly in the coming years.
Morocco has a target to develop 2 GW of solar power by 2020. The Renewable Law 13-09, approved in 2010, provides a legal framework for the creation and operation of facilities producing electricity from renewable energy sources. It allows public and private corporations to compete with Morocco’s National Electricity Office, the publicly- owned utility, in the production of electricity from renewable energy as well as have access to the electricity transmission system operated by ONE.
Morocco’s solar plan is overseen by the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy. Currently, 160 MW of STE (Noor I) is connected to Moroccan grid since February 2016 and 300 MW are under development (Noor II and Noor III). The latest tender for solar in Morocco was for a 50 to 70 MW PV project called Noor IV. As its name suggests, Noor IV would be part the same Noor Ouarzazate complex, which is home to the Noor I, II and III STE projects.
South Africa has a total installed capacity of about 42 GW of power generating capacity, of which 85% is coal, 6% gas, 5% hydropower and 4% nuclear. The presence of renewable energy is less than 0.01%.
Recently, the South African government, together with the national utility Eskom (which owns the country’s coal power plants and manages the grid), developed a programme to facilitate development and deployment of renewable energy technologies. This programme is called the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).While South Africa has made progress through four rounds of the REIPPPP, there are still significant artificial limits in place, and many remaining barriers to renewable energy, which have yet to be addressed. The country’s DOE plans to extend programme to the rest of Africa over the next five years. In October 2015, during the South African International Renewable Energy Conference, the Energy Minister announced that an additional 1,500 MW of solar energy has been allocated for a solar park in the Northern Cape. Whilst this is a win for solar energy and a large part of this allocation is likely to be given to STE, this largely symbolic announcement does not amount to a significant increase in the overall government targets for renewable energy.
South Africa has approved 600 MW of STE within a period of less than five years. In addition, the competitive bidding tariff system has seen a drop in tariffs from ZAR 2.85/kWh when the REIPPPP initiative was launched in November 2011 to ZAR 1.46/kWh, which was achieved by the lowest bidder in bid window 3.5.
South Africa’s first STE project KaXu Solar One, which means “open skies” in the local Nama language, came online in March 2015. This plant was bid in Round 1 of the REIPPPP. Kaxu Solar One is a 100 MW PT plant and covers an area of three km2. It is made up of 1,200 collectors: each collector has ten modules, each module has 28 mirrors, and for 336,000 mirrors in total. The mirrors track the movement of the sun. The Kaxu facility has up to two and a half hours of molten salt thermal storage.
Khi Solar One is a 50 MW superheated steam tower, which was awarded preferred bidder status in the first window of the REIPPPP. It has commenced commercial operation in February 2016.
Bokpoort STE is a 50 MW solar thermal power plant that uses parabolic technology. It was awarded preferred bidder status in the second window of the REIPPPP. This STE power station has 9 hours of storage and will be capable of providing round the clock electricity generation and operate as a baseload facility.
Xina Solar One, located in Pofadder, and Karoshoek Solar One/Ilanga CSP1, being developed at Karoshoek Solar Valley, were awarded and will be operated as semi-peaking plants. They are designed to meet South Africa’s daily evening peak demand, which occurs between 4:30 pm and 9:30 pm, with a combined capacity of 200 MW and five hours of thermal storage each. Once complete, they will play an essential role by providing five hours of firm peak demand electricity every day of the year at tariffs lower than the OCGT’s that run on diesel and are currently used by South Africa’s energy utility to provide peaking electricity. These projects are expected to come online in 2017/18.
Awarded Khathu and Redstone projects will also operate as semi-peakers and have a combined capacity of 200 MW and five hours of storage each. These projects are expected to come online in 2018/19.
South Africa has taken significant steps in the development and deployment of utility scale STE power stations in the Southern African Development Community. However, the remaining barriers prevent South Africa from fully realising its potential as a renewable energy leader on the African continent. Given the need to develop the SADC economy and to migrate to a low carbon future, the deployment of STE power stations in South Africa and the region as a whole can play a key role in the re-industrialisation of the SADC economy and position the region as a market leader in the manufacturing of STE components both for the regional and international markets. Unlocking this potential will, however, require real leadership from regional governments.