Saldanha steel mill supports wind-energy project

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Steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa (Mittal) has confirmed that it is supporting an initiative to erect up to six wind turbines to supply renewable energy to its Saldanha Steel plant, in the Western Cape.

The project is being pursued in partnership with Isivunguvungu Wind Energy Converter (I-WEC), which recently unveiled a 52-m mould, which will be used to manufacture wind turbine blades in Cape Town.

I-WEC, which has a licence from Aerodyne, of Germany, is the first wind turbine manufacturer in South Africa and its Cape Town facility should be able to produce as many as 50 sets of rotor blades a year when full production is reached in 2013.

Individual turbines have a capacity of 2.5 MW and it is anticipated that the first turbine will be erected in Saldanha Bay during 2012, with Mittal as the power offtaker.

Details of the project and the anticipated capital expenditure are still being finalised, but Mittal expects that the first unit will be operating during the second quarter of next year should all the legal, commercial and technical requirements be met. It also envisaged that the last of six units will be erected by the third quarter of 2013.

The development has not been submitted to participate under the Department of Energy’s programme to procure 3 725 MW of renewables capacity by 2016 – the names of the initial preferred bidders for the programme are expected to be released on December 7.

“I-WEC is a manufacturer of wind turbines and, as such, the aim with this project is more focused on development and manufacturing rather than supplying the open market,” Mittal spokesperson Themba Hlengani tells Engineering News Online.

The aspiration, he adds, is to eventually produce more than 70% of the components locally.

Companies within the DCD-Dorbyl group, which is an investor in I-WEC, will manufacture the turbine towers, the flanges to bolt the forward tower segments together and will assist in the assembly of the turbine nacelle. The cost of a turbine produced at the I-WEC facility, including transport, foundation costs and erection on site, is currenlty estimated at between R15-million and R17-million a Megawatt.

For its part, Mittal is pursuing the project as part of larger efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. It is also considering cogeneration opportunities and is implementing a range of energy efficiency programmes at its mills in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, as well as Saldanha.

I-WEC may relocate its blade production facility from the Cape Town harbour to Saldanha by the beginning of 2013, where the production capacity could potentially be increased. A property in Saldanha has already been procured.


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