The R3.1-billion Perdekraal East Wind Farm, in the Western Cape’s Witzenberg local municipality, has started work on its electrical distribution network, edging closer to not only making an impact on the national grid but also on the economies of surrounding communities.
The 110 MW Perdekraal project will comprise 48 wind turbines each 115 m high.
“Each wind tower is connected through underground cables to the main substation, which steps up the incoming power from each tower to match the voltage in the power grid. The main substation is then connected to the grid through overhead high-voltage transmission lines,” explains construction project manager Glenn Hobson.
Since achieving financial closure in June, the construction team has also worked on establishing on-site infrastructure and the clearing and grubbing of roads, completed the excavation of four foundations at the end of September, and is preparing to construct 42 km of road on site.
Spanning 3 055 ha, the location of the Western Cape’s largest Bid Window 4 wind farm
was chosen because of its excellent wind resource and its proximity to national roads for wind turbine transportation. The site also offers favourable construction conditions, municipality and local stakeholder support, a suitable connection to the national grid and studies indicate minimal environmental impact.
To ensure that public infrastructure does not undergo significant deterioration because of construction activities, Perdekraal will restore municipal roads to their preconstruction conditions to the satisfaction of local authorities. “Some municipal roads currently already requiring structural repairs/enhancement will undergo appropriate upgrades in due course. Affected roadside ditches and drains will, if required, be repaired and monitored to ensure that they are functioning properly,” explains Hobson.
During the construction phase of Perdekraal East Wind Farm, local communities will have access to skills and training opportunities, as well as greater job and business opportunities than were previously available in the area.
Perdekraal and its contractors are also focused on procuring goods and services locally. “Any businesses interested in supplying goods and services are encouraged to contact the project’s community liaison officer for more information and to be registered on the project database, from which subcontractors and suppliers will be selected,” says Hobson.
He adds that employment will fluctuate over Perdekraal’s two-year construction period, with local employment peaking during the latter half of 2018, when an estimated 150 jobs will be created.
Scheduled for completion in late 2020, once finalised Perdekraal will generate about 368.8 GWh/y, which is expected to be enough power for up to 95 000 South African homes. Independent utility-scale wind and solar power plant developer Mainstream Asset Management South Africa will be responsible for managing Perdekraal’s operation.
Over its 20-year operating life, the wind farm will eliminate about 410 000 t/y of carbon emissions, compared with traditional fossil fuel power plants. In addition to contributing zero carbon emissions and the reduction of fossil fuel consumption, Perdekraal will further benefit South Africa through minimal water use in its power generation process and significant social and enterprise development programmes.
“Employment opportunities, skills development, socioeconomic development and enterprise development are just some of the ways local communities in Ceres, Nduli, Bella Vista and Prince Alfred Hamlet will benefit during the wind farm’s operational period,” notes Hobson.
During this period, 2.8% of the wind farm’s revenue will be spent on socioeconomic development and 0.2% on enterprise development. In addition, 2.5% of Perdekraal East Wind Farm is owned by Perdekraal East Community Trust through which community social welfare development programmes are invested to the benefit of beneficiary communities.