The global head of French energy-equipment supplier Alstom Power has confirmed the multinational company's intention to bid for Eskom's two utility-scale renewable energy projects, which are expected to cost a combined R10-billion to develop.
Earlier in the year, Eskom received $260-million (nearly R2-billion) worth of International Bank for Reconstruction and Development funding for the 100-MW Sere wind farm and a 100-MW Upington concentrating solar power (CSP) as part of a larger $3,75-billion World Bank loan.
The utility is currently seeking to secure the balance of funding for projects, but hopes to begin construction during 2011.
Speaking with Engineering News Online following a ‘Clean Power Today' road show in Johannesburg on Thursday, Alstom Power president Philippe Joubert confirmed that the company would be submitting bids for both projects as soon as Eskom issued invitations.
He indicated that it was likely that the group's wind proposal would be based on its 3-MW-a-unit ECO 100 solution.
Alstom Power, whose equipment currently supplies 25% of the world's, and 80% of South Africa's, electricity, across various generation offerings, entered the wind-energy milieu in late 2007, when it acquired Ecotecnia, of Spain.
Joubert indicated that the group expected strong growth in wind power, which could comprise between 9% and 15% of the global energy mix by 2030.
However, it was likely to face stiff competition for the Eskom project from companies such as Vestas, Siemens and General Electric .
Alstom Power's CSP offering, meanwhile, would be based on the "power tower" solution now available to the group following its recent $55-million equity investment into BrightSource Energy, which has operations in the US, Israel and Australia.
The technology employs thousands of mirrors to reflect sunlight onto a central receiver atop a tower to produce high temperature steam at the high levels of solar efficiency.
Joubert indicated that there could be significant local manufacturing spin-offs from the Upington project, as well as future CSP programmes in the region.
In fact, he noted that there could be immediate manufacturing synergies arising from the solar project and the components being produced for the R125-billion Medupi and the R142-billion Kusile coal-fired power stations, where Alstom had secured the turbine orders.
"At the moment, we have a huge localisation programme for the coal plants . . . and solar would certainly benefit from these programmes," Joubert said, indicating that there were particular localisation possibilities around turbine hall components.
The localisation prospects for wind were less certain, and would "depend on the volume of orders" out of South Africa.
Joubert also told Engineering News Online that work at the Medupi site, which he toured during his visit, was proceeding in line with Eskom's construction schedule.
The utility has indicated that the first unit at the Limpopo-based power station should be up and running during the first half of 2012.
He acknowledged that there had been delays at Kusile, in Mpumalanga province, but that he was convinced that Eskom and the South African government would soon resolve the outstanding funding issues.