(27 October 2011) Pioneering Cape Town wind power company Isivunguvungu Wind Energy Converter (Pty) Ltd. (I-WEC) has ushered in a new era in wind energy generation on the African continent today when it unveiled the giant mould it will use to create Africa’s first multi megawatt wind turbines.
At 2.5MW, I-WEC’s turbines will be nearly double the size and capacity of the 1.3MW turbines currently in use in South Africa. I-WEC’s turbines will each be able to provide enough power to run about 2 000 average South African households for a year.
I-WEC is also the first South African or African company with the capability to manufacture multi megawatt wind turbines locally, with local labour. Up to 70% of the turbines’ components will be manufactured on home soil, which is an unprecedented feat.
The mould will be used by I-WEC to manufacture 50 meter long rotor blades for its 2.5MW turbines. This exceeds the span of an Airbus wing. Production on its first turbine will start immediately in order to erect the final product in Saldanha in early 2012.
The 42 ton mould arrived by ship from China, from the Swiss-Chinese supplier, at Table Bay Harbour on Tuesday night, but due to its sheer size and the complicated logistical process that was required to offload and move it, the mould only found its home in I-WEC’s workshop on Duncan Road on Thursday morning.
“We are very proud and excited to be able to pioneer the manufacture of multi megawatt turbines in Africa,” said I-WEC spokesman and financial manager Thomas Schaal.
“Through this investment we are able to contribute significantly to the local economy. Our efforts in setting up a local turbine manufacturing facility, associated with the creation of sustainable jobs and skills development, also contributes to a large extent to the growth and development of the renewable energy sector in South Africa and Africa,” said Schaal.
I-Wec believes projects such as these, that are able to create sustainable jobs in the wind power sector, will go a long way to solidify government’s commitment to renewable energy.
The investment in the project totals in excess of R100-million and is likely to create between 70 and 100 direct jobs in the Western Cape in the next two years and, when the operation is in full swing and depending on market conditions, about 400 direct jobs in the next five years.
Since its inception in 2009, I-WEC has created 30 direct jobs – 15 jobs for previously disadvantaged technicians from the West Coast who have received specialised training in rotor blade manufacture, and 15 staff in its Table Bay Harbour office, including engineers and administrative staff.
I-WEC obtained its licence from the German renewable energy company Aerodyn. South African heavy engineering company DCD-Dorbyl is I-WEC’s majority stakeholder.