The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) said no objections were raised during its public hearing, held on June 12, into Eskom’s proposed wind farm, to be constructed near Koekenaap, in the Western Cape.
Nersa electricity regulation executive manager Mbulelo Ncetezo told Engineering News that the panel would make a recommendation, which would probably be discussed at the next regulator meeting in July.
But Eskom warned that recruitment problems and long lead times were threat- ening to delay the wind-energy project.
The utility told Engineering News that the budget for the current cycle was also affected, owing to underspending, but pointed out that mitigation measures had been put in place.
The project would involve the development of a wind farm with an initial capacity of 100 MW, which was likely to be increased to 200 MW. The plant would enable the storage of renewable energy for use during the evening peak demand.
The completion date for the wind farm was March 30, 2010.
While the utility had not given much clarity on these problems and the extent to which it could affect the project, it highlighted the project’s achievements.
The land acquisition for a third property had been concluded.
Eskom also reported that, as far as it was aware, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (Deat) had, to date, not received any notices of intention to appeal in terms of the environmental authorisation record of decision, that was made on May 6.
However, the full 30-day appeal period ended only on June 8, and Eskom was in contact with the Deat office with regard to any possible last-minute appeals.
Commenting on the project’s progress, Eskom said that the request for tenders for engineering, procurement and construction contracts had closed on May 15. A technical and commercial evaluation was concluded on June 6, with a legal internal audit to follow in order to determine the outcome of the tender process and evaluation.
Eskom said the wind energy facility substation was scheduled to be energised by October 2009.
A 132-kV distribution line would connect the wind energy facility to the Juno transmission substation close to Vredendal. The line and substation design were in progress.
The utility said the speci- fication for the access road repair from the R363, at Koekenaap, to the site had been accepted in principle by the West Coast regional office of the Department of Transport and Public Works. The enquiry for the access road repair would still be issued in June this year.
Meanwhile, studies for a static var compensator (SVC) had not been con- cluded and were not included in the business case for the original 100-MW facility.
However, Eskom stated that it was highly likely that the additional 100 MW would require an SVC and a request had been submitted for inclusion in the business case for approval.
The wind farm would be South Africa’s second commercial wind farm, following the launch of the first such wind farm near Darling, in the Western Cape, in May.
In February, Eskom had signed a financing frame- work agreement for a 20-year €100-million loan with French development agency Agence Française de Dèveloppement for partial financing of the Koekenaap wind-farm project.