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Feb 05, 2008

Canadian firm in talks with govt for land to build wave-power project

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© Reuse this Vancouver-based renewable energy company Finavera Renewables has identified two, yet undisclosed, sites in the Western Cape for a proposed 20-MW wave-power project, and is waiting for the South African government to provide terms under which it is prepared to lease the space.

“We’ve announced our intent to proceed with the environmental-assessment process, so in that sense we have secured up the sites,” Finavera policy and public relations vice president Myke Clark told Engineering News Online.

“Until we’ve been able to formally lease the sites, however, we’re a little reluctant to reveal where they are.”

The company is also in the process of assessing the permits required for the project with the relevant government agencies.

In the meantime, Finavera is conducting a final analysis to determine which of the two sites would be optimal for the project, which will have the potential to generate more than 30-million kWh of electricity a month and avoid about 4 000 t of CO2 emissions a year.

This includes micro-site assessment of the energy infrastructure, detailed wave resources and environmental characteristics of the South Africa locations.

The company is not sure how long it will take before a final site is selected. “Hopefully, before too long,” Clarke commented.

Finavera will deploy a monitoring buoy within the next few months, to get a “finer detail” of the wave regime.

The cost estimates to build the project are unchanged from the $40-million published in April last year.

Finavera, which also has wave projects, planned or under way, in the US and Canada, and wind-power intitiatives in Canada and Ireland, has committed to build the project in South Africa as part of CEO Jason Bak's membership of former US President Bill Clinton's Clinton Global Initiative.

The South African government, staring at an increasingly gloomy power supply-and-demand picture for the next several years, has said that it plans to increase the percentage of energy generated from renewable sources in the country, with a target of producing 10 000 GWh of energy from renewable energy sources by 2013.

About 90% of South Africa's power is generated by coal-fired plants, but there are several 'clean-energy' projects in the pipeline.

State power utility Eskom has already approved plans for a 100-MW wind power plant, construction of which could start in 2009, with operations possibly starting by the beginning of 2010, and is also considering building a 100-MW solar-energy project.

Edited by: Liezel Hill
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