Loeriesfontein Wind Farm as well as Khobab Wind Farm, both located in the Northern Cape, are now connected to State-owned power utility Eskom’s grid, through Eskom’s Helios substation, and the commissioning of wind turbines has started.
“We energised the wind farm substations with Eskom Transmission’s Helios substation on September 28, marking a pivotal point in the construction of both of the wind farms, and will now continue the process of wind turbine commissioning,” explained independent renewable-energy developer Mainstream Renewable Power country construction manager Kevin Foster.
Khobab Wind Farm confirmed the completion of all the 61 wind turbine generators on September 8, more than two weeks ahead of schedule.
The wind farms are expected to start supplying electricity to the national grid by early December and the developers will continue to work closely with the various Eskom teams to achieve this milestone. “We’re working together with the Eskom teams in the Northern Cape and the Western Cape operating unit to ensure a smooth and safe energisation and commissioning process,” added Foster.
Each wind turbine is connected to a step-up transformer, which boosts the voltage output of the wind turbine generator from 690 V to 33 000 V. These transformers are located externally at the base of each wind turbine. From there, these medium-voltage reticulation power cables are routed underground from turbine to turbine according to grouped circuits, and bring the collective circuit power from the step-up transformers at the wind farm’s substation, where the main transformer is located.
The substation built on the wind farm is divided into two conjoined substations. One is owned and operated by the wind farm, and the other – along with the overhead line – has been handed over to Eskom for ownership and operation. Each substation is given a unique name. The two joined substations are centrally located to the grouped circuit power cables’ meeting point.
At this termination point of the circuits, the collective power from the wind farm is run through several power quality checks and various measurement devices. Subsequently, the power is directed through the main transformer, where the voltage is again increased to 132 000 V.
The power is then directed through the main transformer into the Eskom substation on the wind farm, where further power quality checks and measurements are completed prior to exporting to the 8-km-long 132 000 V overhead line.
The overhead line connects to Eskom’s Helios substation, where the power is distributed to the Eskom grid through several separate overhead lines leading out of the substation – using various separate voltage step-up and step-down transformers, similar to those used on the wind farm, to adjust the export voltages to their required levels. The town of Loeriesfontein is supplied by one of these overhead lines at 66 000 V.
The Loeriesfontein and Khobab wind farms are owned by a consortium dedicated to providing clean, renewable-energy to the people of South Africa.
The consortium comprises pan-African renewable energy generation platform Lekela Power, black-owned investment firm Thebe Investment Corporation, infrastructure investment fund IDEAS Managed Fund, investment company Futuregrowth Asset Management, South African renewable-energy developer Genesis Eco-Energy and the Loerisfontein and Khobab community trusts.
Lekela is 60%-owned by energy investor Actis, with the remaining 40% owned by a conglomerate led by Mainstream Renewable Power. This conglomerate includes investors such as the International Finance Corporation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Genesis Eco-Energy’s stake is held in partnership with private-equity firm Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital (LMSC). Genesis Eco-Energy describes itself as a “pioneering” South African renewable-energy developer, active in South Africa since 2001. Meanwhile, LMSC, a private-equity resource fund, has garnered additional support from the German Development Bank and the Dutch Development Bank with regard to investment across the Mainstream Renewable Power portfolio.
The IDEAS Managed Fund, a policy product of financial services provider Old Mutual Life Assurance, is a fund for institutional investors that invest in transport, government accommodation, energy, thermal power generation and renewable energy.
The Khobab Community Trust and the Loeriesfontein Community Trust were established with the objective of carrying out activities to benefit the local community in the areas of enterprise development, education and health.