(EnergyAsia, February 21 2012, Tuesday) — ABB, the Switzerland-based power and automation technology group, said it has signed an agreement with FG Emvelo, an independent solar power plant company, to develop high efficiency concentrating solar power (CSP) plants at Karoshoek Solar Valley in South Africa’s Northern Cape province.

FG Emvelo,a joint venture between FG.de, a German group of companies and Johannesburg-based Emvelo Projects, recently acquired a 340 sq km site with high direct normal irradiance (DNI).

ABB said the plants will use the efficient and cost-effective ABB-Novatec Solar turnkey concept for CSP plants which reduces the need for land by 40% and water consumption by 80%.

Novatec Solar is a German CSP technology company in which ABB recently acquired a 35% investment stake.

The efficiency is achieved through a patented solar boiler for direct steam generation based on innovative linear Fresnel technology. The collectors use flat glass mirrors to reflect solar energy onto a receiver in which water is vaporized directly to produce superheated steam at temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius. The direct steam technology operates without thermo oil or any other toxic heat transfer medium.

Differentiating benefits of the concept include the automated mass production of key components in local production facilities, a fast and accurate assembly process, highly efficient land use, and a robotic cleaning system that uses very little water.

Franz-Josef Mengede, head of ABB’s global power generation business within the Power Systems division, said:

“We are delighted to partner in this development. It confirms the growing appeal of our high-efficiency turnkey concept for concentrating solar power plants.”

Florian Fritsch, managing director of FG Emvelo, said:

“We are proud to announce the start of a new strategic partnership with ABB and Novatec Solar. “With their collaboration, and the use of linear Fresnel technology, we will be able to take significant steps towards achieving our goal of a ‘solar Silicon Valley’ at Karoshoek.”

ABB recently completed the turnkey delivery of South Africa’s first photovoltaic power plants for state energy firm, Eskom.