14 July 2014

South Africa: SA Launches One of Africa's Biggest Wind Farms

Photo: warrenski/Flickr
Wind farm.

The R3-billion Jeffrey's Bay wind farm, located between the towns of Jeffreys Bay and Humansdorp in South Africa's Eastern Cape province, was officially inaugurated last week.

Built by a consortium led by British company Globeleq, the 138 megawatt (MW) wind farm is one of Africa's biggest - larger than the 120 MW Ashegoda windfarm that was unveiled by Ethiopia in October 2013, though not as big as the Tarfaya wind farm in south-western Morocco, which started producing energy in April and will eventually generate up to 300 MW of electricity.

The Jeffrey's Bay wind farm, comprising sixty 80-metre high turbines spread over 3 700 hectares, will supply enough clean, renewable electricity to power more than 100 000 homes a year, helping South Africa to avoid production of 420 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

The facility was built under the government's renewable energy programme for independent power producers, which aims to add 3 725 MW of wind, solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar power to South Africa's energy mix.

In May, Globeleq and its local and international partners unveiled the 50 MW De Aar and 50 MW Droogfontein solar photovoltaic plants in the Northern Cape. Also part of the government's programme, the two plants represented a combined investment of R3-billion.

"The completion of these facilities is the result of a truly global partnership with the government of South Africa and [state electricity company] Eskom and the private sector of developers, investors, lenders, constructors, suppliers and the local community," Globeleq CEO Mikael Karlsson said in a statement last week.

"It demonstrates significant support for independent private power producers in the region and indicates the sustainability of the renewable energy sector."

According to Globeleq, more than 700 people worked on the site during the wind farm's construction, of whom 45 percent were drawn from the local community.

"A percentage of the project's operational revenues will be reinvested into the local community through socio-economic and enterprise development programmes, creating the skills needed to support the growth of the renewable energy industry in South Africa," the company said.

Globeleq is the majority shareholder in the consortium that built the three facilities, the others being Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power, Thebe Investment Corporation, South African engineering firms Enzani Technologies and Usizo Engineering, and local community trusts. Globeleq will manage the operation and commercial aspects of the facilities through its wholly owned South African subsidiary.

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