IFC supports large-scale solar power facility in South Africa

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, announced today it is providing a ZAR 455 million ($37 million) loan to support a new solar thermal electricity power facility in South Africa’s Northern Cape region, building on a series of pioneering renewable energy investments in the country.

The 100-megawatt Xina Solar One facility being developed by Abengoa is expected to produce clean energy for more than 95,000 households, create jobs and reduce carbon emissions. It will be located next to Abengoa’s 100-megawatt Kaxu Solar One, the first solar thermal electricity power plant in commercial operation in South Africa, which was also supported by IFC financing. Those projects, along with the 50-megawatt Khi Solar One facility, another Abengoa facility with IFC support, are set to help South Africa meet its growing energy demands and boost access to sustainable, reliable electricity.

IFC Country Manager Saleem Karimjee said, “Solving the power issue is an urgent priority in South Africa, and establishing the country as a leader in renewable energy production is an important long-term goal. This project draws on South Africa’s abundant sunshine to address both these issues.”

IFC’s loan for Xina Solar One is part of a $660 million financing package with support from partners such as the Industrial Development Corporation, the Government Employees Pension Fund represented by the Public Investment Corporation and Kaxu Community Trust. Participation included other development financial institutions, including the African Development Bank and the Development Bank of Southern Africa, and local private banks such as RMB, Nedbank and ABSA.

Xina Solar One is a greenfield solar thermal electricity power plant with a parabolic-trough design and a five-hour thermal energy storage system using molten salts. It will supply clean electricity to the South African power utility Eskom under a 20-year power purchase agreement signed in late 2014.

IFC has supported several renewable energy projects developed under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, including the 134-megawatt Amakhala wind farm in the Eastern Cape.

Bertrand de la Borde, IFC Head of Infrastructure in Africa, said: “Inspired by the success of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, IFC and its partners in the World Bank Group recently launched the Scaling Solar program which seeks to create a competitive solar power market in the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.”

The Scaling Solar program offers African governments a “one stop shop” comprehensive solution to launch privately-funded solar projects that can supply electricity to national power grids within two years. As it is implemented across multiple countries, Scaling Solar will allow smaller African countries to enjoy the purchasing power of bigger and more developed economies in this sector.

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