Opic, Solar Reserve and ACWA Power to develop landmark S African solar facility

THE Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic), the US government’s development finance institution, has signed a $400 million debt financing agreement with US based energy developer SolarReserve and Saudi Arabia-based ACWA Power, to develop the Redstone Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) project in Northern Cape, South Africa.
The Redstone project is a 100 megawatt (MW) clean energy facility that will be connected to the South African national grid. Using SolarReserve’s cutting-edge CSP technology, Redstone’s molten salt storage capability will deliver consistent baseload electricity, even after the sun sets. This is a critical development in a country where frequent power outages have been cited as an obstacle to economic growth.
Opic support to the Redstone project is also a significant milestone for President Obama’s Power Africa initiative, of which Opic is a key contributor. Power Africa aims to bring new power access to the more than 600 million sub-Saharan Africans currently living without energy access.
‘The development of the Redstone project will benefit the South African people, the international clean energy sector, and the role of U.S. leadership in emerging market development,’ said Elizabeth Littlefield, Opic’s president and CEO. ‘It’s impressive that Redstone brings together the innovative US private sector leadership and technology of SolarReserve, the international experience of ACWA Power, and large-scale catalytic financing from Opic. This sort of change-making partnership is at the heart of President Obama’s Power Africa initiative and creates broad, lasting impact in international development.’
The Redstone project marks an important technology advancement for Africa in clean, renewable power, and a demonstration of US developed technology that is leading the world in large scale solar energy storage. ‘In addition, the project’s delivered electricity price is the lowest of any CSP project in the country to date,’ said SolarReserve’s CEO Kevin Smith. He added, ‘We appreciate OPIC’s support and look forward to working with our partner ACWA Power and the communities where the project is located to help South Africa at a time when it critically needs new generation to support growth of its economy.’
The Redstone CSP Project, ACWA Power’s 2nd project in South Africa, delivers dispatchable power at the most competitive tariff offered in its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) programme to date for CSP technology, while maximising value retention in not only the South African economy, but also within the local economy in the project vicinity. Quite apart from the socio-economic contribution this project will make to South Africa, the first time deployment of CSP Tower technology in the country using a project finance framework, which was made possible by the galvanising leadership of Opic financing, will enable this very important clean energy technology to be deployed at scale and at a faster pace than otherwise would have been possible.
Opic’s financing to the Redstone project helps fulfil both the US commitment to clean energy in the developing world as well as South Africa’s own goals through their Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), which aims to add 3,725 MW of clean power to South Africa’s energy generation mix.

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