Kangnas Wind Farm starts commercial operations

16th November 2020 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Contributing Editor and Photographer

Kangnas Wind Farm starts commercial operations

The Northern Cape-based Kangnas Wind Farm

The Kangnas Wind Farm on November 15 achieved its commercial operations date, making it the first Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) Bid Window 4 wind farm in the Northern Cape to come on stream.

Construction started in June, 2018 but was halted by the national Covid-19 lockdown, as were many other wind farm projects, only starting again after May 19.

According to the developers, this wind farm – situated outside the town of Springbok, in the Northern Cape – has is expected to generate over 513 GWh/y of renewable energy over its 20-year operations period.

Wind farm developer, utility-scale renewable energy developer Lekela reports that, with the completion of this wind farm, the company has brought to a close all five wind farms in a Lekela-led consortium across South Africa.

Together, these project total 600 MW.

Built by a proudly South African team, mostly from the local Nama Khoi municipal area, over a period of two years, this 140 MW wind project comprises 61 turbines, and is one of 12 wind farms procured under Bid Window 4 of the REIPPPP.

There is only one other wind farm to commence commercial operations this year – the Perdekraal East Wind Farm, in the Western Cape’s town of Ceres, owned by the same equity partners as Kangnas Wind Farm.

Kangnas Wind Farm construction project manager Manie Kotzé says projects in Bid Window 4 will collectively add 1.3 GW of new wind power capacity onto South Africa’s national grid.

He adds that this comes at a time when South Africa needs more available energy to support the rebuilding of the country in a post-Covid-19 era.

Following industry trends, as set up by the Department of Energy’s local content requirements, the wind farm achieved high local content levels, exceeding 45%. This includes both locally manufactured turbine towers as well as the project’s mega transformer.

Lekela adds that the Kangnas Wind Farm also committed to drive local job creation, providing over 550 jobs at the height of the project’s construction.

Long-term operations and maintenance jobs will also be supported.

Lekela CEO Chris Antonopoulos says Kangnas’ success in supporting local manufacturing and jobs is an indicator of how low-carbon technologies can drive renewed economic growth in the wake of Covid-19.

“No other source of energy has the pace of development, nor the backing of governments, communities and companies that wind and solar do. We have to capitalise on this appetite to ensure the number of Africans without access to electricity continues to fall, not rise, in the next decade.”

Kangnas Wind Farm will also help the country reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions, eliminating about 550 000 t/y of carbon emissions when compared to traditional fossil fuel power plants.

Meanwhile, the communities of Nababeep, Springbok, Concordia, Matjieskloof, Bergsig, Okiep and Carolusberg are the direct beneficiaries of developmental programmes, designed to create social resilience and local capacity.

The wind farm has already been active during the construction period, and will continue to benefit these communities throughout the operations period. To date, community scholarships have been awarded; welfare and a Covid-19 relief project funded; early childhood development support provided; and enterprise development programmes implemented.

The wind farm, most recently, provided support to the local healthcare centre in Springbok through the provision of oxygen machines and other equipment to assist with Covid-19 relief, as well as after the pandemic.

“As we enter this new phase, we are pleased to note that a number of our impactful development programmes are already in place, all of which drive socio-economic and enterprise development initiatives, in support of local communities,” adds Kangnas Wind Farm construction programme manager Christo Loots.

From a Lekela project perspective, Kangnas follows the 110 MW Perdekraal East wind farm which entered operation in October.

Perdekraal East was the first wind farm from Round 4 of the REIPPPP to do so, with Kangnas now following it. Lekela’s first wind farm in South Africa – Noupoort, was likewise the first project from Round 3 to reach commercial operation, back in 2016.