Photo Jay Caboz.
Longyuan Mulilo De Aar 2 (North). Photo Jay Caboz.
  • South Africa’s largest multi-billion rand Independent projects are all wind farms.
  • IPPs contribute 3,976MW to the grid while coal contributes 36,400MW. 
  • The largest are 3 wind farms that contribute almost 140MW each.
  • More are on their way.
  • For more visit Business Insider South Africa.

As Eskom fails to keep unplanned breakdowns at below 9,500MW - the level at which it is forced to consider load shedding - since the start of December, there is growing pressure on government to fast-track renewable power projects.

Ntombifuthi Ntuli, CEO of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), believes just by lifting the Maximum Export Capacity (MEC) on all operating wind farms, which governs how much energy is permitted to be exported by wind farm power generators to the grid, 500MW of energy could immediately be brought online.

According to the Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (IPPPP), 3,976MW of electricity generation capacity from 64 IPP projects has been connected to the national grid. Wind makes up the lion’s share providing 52% of renewable energy to the grid. Among the largest are 3 wind farms that contribute almost 140MW each. 

Read: New independent power plants could be connected to the grid by February.

IPPs are nowhere near the 36,400MW (41,000MW if you include Medupi and Kusile which aren't finished yet) delivered by coal. But this picture could change quickly: unlike coal power stations, which take years to build - Medupi has been under construction since 2007 - renewable projects can be built quite quickly and there's a good track record of them sticking to schedules. 

nstalled Dispatchable Generation (MW)
Eskom's Installed Dispatchable Generation (MW) as of April 2019. Source Department of Energy.

There is some good news on the way. IPP contribution is expected to go up to 6,422MW once all 112 projects come online. These are part of Bid window 4, the last bid window to be signed off by Eskom. 

These are currently the largest sustainable energy projects:


1. Longyuan Mulilo Green Energy Number 2 North Wind Energy Facility - 138.96MW

Photo Jay Caboz.
Longyuan Mulilo De Aar 2 (North). Photo Jay Caboz.

Longyuan Mulilo's Number 2 North Wind Farm is one of the largest wind farms in South Africa. It is a massive 138.95MW farm found a few kilometers outside of De Aar, in the Northern Cape.

Along with a second 100MW wind farm, also in De Aar, Longyuan South Africa has invested almost R5 billion into the two projects.

Longyuan SA is a wholly owned subsidiary of China Longyuan Power Group Corporation – one of the world’s largest wind-power developers.


2. Loeriesfontein Wind Farm 2 - 138.23MW, Northern Cape (R3.5 billion)

On 8 December 2017, Loeriesfontein Wind Farm was delivered into operation on schedule, and on budget, as part of the third round bid window of the REIPPP. With a generation capacity of 140MW the R3.5 billion farm boasts 61 Siemens SWT-2.3-108 turbines.

The Loeriesfontein Wind Farm forms part of a joint venture between global energy producers Mainstream Renewable Power and Lekela Power.

The site was chosen because of its excellent wind resource, its proximity to national roads for wind turbine transportation, the favourable construction conditions, municipality and local stakeholder support, the straightforward electrical connection into the Eskom grid, and studies showed that there would be little environmental impact.


3. Khobab Wind - 137.74MW, Northern Cape (R3.5 billion) 

Khobab Wind Farm.
Khobab Wind Farm. Source Khobab Wind Farm.

Khobab Wind Farm, also built by Mainstream Renewable Power, is located right next door to Loeriesfontein Wind Farm. Like its neighbour the farm contributes almost 140MW. The wind farm was estimated to cost R3.5 billion.  


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

Cookhouse Wind Farm. Photo: Aurecon
Aurecon

The R2.4 billion Cookhouse Wind Farm comprises of 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.


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

The R2,7 billion Gouda Wind Farm is 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.


6. Jeffreys Bay – 135.11MW, 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 of 60 turbines that weigh 424 tonnes each. They can be found on a 3,700 hectare farm just outside 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.  


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

Amakhala Emoyeni Wind Farm. Photo: Glenn McCreath

The 131.5MW 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 2.4MW 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.  


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