Wind and solar project developer Mainstream Renewable Power South Africa on Wednesday broke ground on the adjacent Khobab and Loeriesfontein wind farms, in the Hantam municipality, Northern Cape, which would be developed at a combined cost of R7-billion.
Each of the two wind farms would have an output of 140 MW, with each farm comprising 61 wind turbines.
The projects formed part of the third round of the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
Collectively, the wind farms were expected to power around 240 000 average South African households and would be operational by December 2017. The site, spanning 6 653 ha, was chosen for its “excellent wind resource”, favourable construction conditions and straightforward electrical connection into parastatal Eskom’s Helios substation.
The wind turbines would be supplied by Siemens Wind Power, with the turbines’ blades, hubs and nacelles arriving from overseas at a nearby port and being transported by road to Loeriesfontein.
The 99 m turbine towers would be manufactured at the Gestamp wind tower mast manufacturing facility, in Atlantis, in the Western Cape.
A consortium comprising Murray and Roberts Construction and Consolidated Power Projects would complete the civil and electrical works for the wind farms.
The Loeriesfontein Wind Farm’s construction would be led by project manager Leo Quin, who was previously the project manager for the construction of the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, in the Eastern Cape.
Khobab Wind Farm’s construction would be led by Kevin Foster, who gained experience as project manager during the construction of the Droogfontein Solar Farm, in the Northern Cape.
The Loeriesfontein and Khobab wind farms were owned by a consortium led by Lekela Power, a joint venture between private equity firm Actis and Mainstream Renewable Power.
Lekela Power aimed to provide 1 000 MW of wind and solar power by 2018.
“We are thrilled to be adding over one-million megawatt-hours of clean, renewable energy each year to the country’s national grid; avoiding an estimated 22-million tonnes of carbon emissions over the lifespan of these projects, when compared to traditional fossil fuel power plants,” Khobab Wind Farm and Loeriesfontein Wind Farm GM Tom Thorogood said.
Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas added that the province was excited and optimistic about the prospects of renewable energy.
“The development of the provincial renewable-energy strategy is a manifestation of the fast-growing renewable-energy and green economy sector in the province.
“We are well on our way to becoming a net producer of renewable energy to the rest of the country by 2020. Renewable energy is expected to unlock existing potential and to position the province to attract both local and foreign investment and create much needed jobs,” she noted.