Wind Farms. Photo: Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm
  • South Africa’s five largest multi-billion rand renewable projects are all wind farms, which together contribute 645.71 MW to the grid.
  • The largest contributor is the Cookhouse Wind Farm with 135.8 MW.

South Africa’s five largest renewable energy projects, measured in terms of investment, are all multi-billion rand wind farms that contribute a collective 645.71 megawatt (MW) to the grid. 

Together, SA's renewable energy projects contribute 3,773 MW, compared to the 43,485MW currently delivered by fossil fuels. This is according to information released by the the Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme to Parliament in March.

The existing investment in South Africa's sustainable energy projects totals R142 billion, almost five times what SA paid for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

And government this week signed contracts worth an additional R56bn, expected to add 2,300 MW of electricity to the national grid over the next five years, with 27 independent renewable energy power producers.

The average time for construction to completion of renewable energy projects is 1.9 years. 

These are the five largest sustainable energy projects to date:


1 Cookhouse Wind Farm – 135.8 MW, Eastern Cape (R2.4 billion)

Cookhouse Wind Farm. Photo: Aurecon

Cookhouse Wind Farm – 135.8 MW Eastern Cape (2,600 hectares)
Cookhouse Wind Farm – 135.8 MW Eastern Cape (2,600 hectares)

The largest of the renewable projects is the R2,4 billion Cookhouse Wind Farm.

The wind farm comprises 66 Suzlon S88 wind turbine generators with a capacity of 135.8 MW.

It is located just outside of Cookhouse, in the Blue Crane Route Municipality in the Eastern Cape, and spans 2,600 hectares of pastoral land.

The land  is leased from a local farmer and you can expect to see plenty of sheep grazing below the blades. The wind farm first supplied electricity to the grid in March 2014.

Suzlon Wind Energy South Africa constructed the wind farm and is currently responsible for operation and maintenance. It is owned by Old Mutual, the African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) and the Local Community Trust.


2 Gouda Wind Project – 135.5MW,Western Cape  (R2,7 billion)  

Gouda Wind Farm. Photo: Google Maps
Gouda Wind Farm. Photo: Google Maps

Coming in a close second is the R2,7 billion Gouda Wind Farm owned by a consortium of ACCIONA Energía (51%); Aveng (29%); Soul City Broad-Based Empowerment Company (10%); and the Gouda Wind Energy Community Trust (10%).

Located in the Drakenstein munisipality, Western Cape, it has 46 AW3000 turbines mounted on 100 meter-high concrete towers.


3 Jeffreys Bay – 135.11 MW, Eastern Cape (R2.9 billion)

Jeffreys Bay – 135.11MW, Eastern Cape (3,700 hectares)
Jeffreys Bay – 135.11MW, Eastern Cape (3,700 hectares)

The R2,9 billion wind farm comprises 60 turbines which weigh 424 tonnes each on a 3,700 hectares farm just ouside of the popular surfing town Jeffreys Bay. 

Wind speeds of a minimum of 4 metres per second (mps) are required for the turbines to turn, with an ideal speed of 12mps. The turbines can do as many as 29 revolutions per minute.

If the wind gets too strong, at around 25mps, the turbines brake automatically and then rotate to 90 degrees.  


4 Amakhala Emoyeni Wind Farm - 131.05 MW, Eastern Cape (R3.94 billion)

Amakhala Emoyeni Wind Farm - 131.05MW, Eastern Cape (13,000 hectares)
Amakhala Emoyeni Wind Farm - 131.05MW, Eastern Cape (13,000 hectares)
Amakhala Emoyeni Wind Farm. Photo: Glenn McCreath

The 131.5 MW wind farm Amakhala Emoyeni, which mean 'aloes in the wind' in isiXhosa, forms part of 13,000 hectares of leased agricultural farms near Bedford, a small town in the Eastern Cape.

The R3,94 billion wind farm comprises 56 Nordex N117 / 2,400 turbines with a capacity of 2.4 MW each.

Initial works included the construction of 35km of internal roads for the installation of the wind farm and future operations. The first wind turbine was erected in 2015.

The project, jointly owned by Exxaro Resources, Tata Power and Cennergi, is only the first phase of a planned development.  


5 Enel’s Gibson Bay Wind Farm – 108.25 MW Eastern Cape (R2 billion)

Gibson Bay Wind Farm. Photo: Red Cap
Gibson Bay. Photo: Google Maps
Gibson Bay. Photo: Google Maps

Owned by Italian energy giant Enel Green Power, this 108.25MW farm covers 4,300 hectares of land in the Kouga Municipality in the Eastern Cape.

Along with 37 Nordex 3.0 MW N117 turbines, they brought in free Wi-Fi to schools in the area for 1,000 students, and built 40 km of road. 


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