Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Solar Farming South Africa

On my recent trip to South Africa a few of us chartered surveyors went on safari.  However our game was geomatics related and our chat full of geo speak.  Our host, Martin de Beer from MnSGroup, flew us to Augrabies and en route we flew over the Khi Solar One farm which his team had surveyed.  The tower is over 200m tall and the focal point of the surrounding 4000 mirrors (heliostats to be precise - although I really do think it just means "mobile mirror").  A useful factsheet is here.

The heart shape is nothing to do with romance (have you ever met chartered surveyors?!) but a precise pattern for maximising the sun onto the tower.  
15 03 26 Airtime - Jburg to Dundi Lodge (23)
And it was truly awesome to take a spin around it.
The following day we drove to another solar farm MnS Group have surveyed, KaXu Solar One Farm.  In fact it was officially opened just a couple of weeks before we visited.  

It is incredibly hard to grasp the enormous scale of this 100MW plant.  
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm (1)
It was nearly possible to watch the solar panels (each approx 8x150m) rotate as they followed the sun.
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm (32)
More technical details on KaXu are here.

Adjacent to KaXu Solar One is the new site, Xina Solar One, on which a similar sized farm is being constructed.  The Environmental and Social plan  by the African Development Bank is an interesting read.  MnS Group have a couple of survey teams here and one of their chief surveyors kindly drove us around this enormous site explaining how the construction is developing.

The original ground cover is desert shrub land which is cleared, and then smoothed using these bulldozers.
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm (20)
Each parabolic panel sits on two precisely engineered struts which are set using this metal frame.
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm (23)
Drilling the hole.
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm (13)
These moulds fit the top of each concrete post.  The metal rod is inserted, the concrete poured in and the moulds used to shape the top.
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm (18)
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm (14)
A series of dual-struts being fixed.
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm (22)
Hundreds and hundreds of them.
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm (10)
Ooh, look, surveyor.
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm (26)
Workers on top of the new processing plant.  This is the hub of the plant controlling the collection and generation of the power.
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm (28)
We loved this door - I want one for work!
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm surveying door
Accommodation for some of the project team.  A pool and astroturf in the desert.  Lush.
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm (34)
Team geomatics.
15 03 27_1 Solar Array Farm (17)
The following day we flew up the Orange River for sunset.  Like you do.  We were considering heading back when Martin suddenly said "oh wait, I recognise the road...KaXu is just over the hill..." and before we knew it we were flying over farm.  
15 03 28_5 Over Orange River (5)
So we had an aerial tour of the solar farm.  How absolutely amazing. 
15 03 28_5 Over Orange River (12)
Now that's what I call a decent safari.

1 comment:

Navanath Raut said...

Hi
It is very interesting to see your bloggers always and it is keeping me updated .
I salute to your professionalism.

with regards

Navanath Raut AssocRICS,MIS