South Africa secures energy boost from 80MW Noupoort wind farm

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New wind farm comes online in Northern Cape region, as ACWA Power 120MW wind farm moves closer towards completion in Morocco

Africa’s burgeoning renewable energy sector has received a dual boost this week from opposite ends of the continent.

An 80MW onshore wind farm in South Africa’s Northern Cape region started commercial operations having been completed both on schedule and on budget, according to Mainstream Renewable Power, part of a consortium behind the development.Situated in the Umsobomvu Municipal Area around 10km east of Noupoort in the Northern Cape, the Noupoort Wind plant spans 7,500 hectares and comprises 35 wind turbines of 99 metres in height.

When operating at full capacity, the facility is expected to provide around 304,800MWh of energy each year, supplying electricity to up to 69,000 South African homes.

In addition, it is estimated Noupoort wind farm will eliminate the equivalent of around 300,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year when compared to “traditional fossil fuel power plants”, according to the consortium.

As of the start of this week all 35 turbines at the ZAR1.9bn project were commissioned and connected to the country’s public energy grid after 17 months of construction, the consortium said.

“We are thrilled to have reached this milestone on target and to have met all Eskom’s [South Africa’s public energy grid manager] requirements including grid code compliance, thereby achieving the commercial operations date just 17 months after construction commenced,” said Savva Antoniadis, country programme manager for Noupoort Wind Farm.

The facility is the first to successfully achieve full operation as part of the third round of the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), a funding scheme aimed at boosting the country’s clean energy supplies.

South Africa’s relatively young wind energy sector now supplies enough electricity to power more than 500,000 homes from 15 large wind farms generating more than 3GW of energy.

The consortium is led by renewable energy developer Lekela Power, a joint venture between investor Actis and global solar and wind company Mainstream Renewable Power, the latter of which recently announced a multi-million investment deal to construct over 1,300MW new wind and solar capacity across Africa by 2018.

Other members of the consortium include Nourpoort Renewable Energy Trust, Thebe Investment Corporation, the IDEAS Managed Fund, Futuregrowth Asset Management and Genesis Eco-Energy in partnership with Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital.

ACWA Power Morocco

The announcement came as ACWA Power Khalladi confirmed final orders to suppliers and contractors for the construction of its 120MW wind power project in the North of Morocco.

Construction first began on the 1.7bn Moroccan dirhams project in November 2015 and once completed the wind farm is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 200,000 tonnes.

ACWA Power Khalladi (formerly known as UPC Renewables) is 75 per cent owned by ACWA Power and 25 per cent owned by the ARIF Investment Fund. The partnership is aiming to bring online 2GW of wind power capacity by 2020, representing 14 per cent of Morocco’s national installed capacity.

“This new wind energy project reinforces our positioning as a major player in the country’s renewable energy sector,” said Rajit Nanda, chief investment officer at ACWA Power. “Our investment in Morocco is for the long run and with our partner ARIF we will be contributing even further to the transformation of the energy sector Morocco is undergoing in alignment with its national strategy.”

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