R300m SA wind tower factory to reach full production by Feb/March 2014


South Africa’s first wind tower manufacturing facility, which will be built at a cost of R300-million in the Coega Industrial Development Zone, outside Port Elizabeth, would produce its first units by November and reach full production by February or March next year, DCD Wind Towers MD Rob King said on Thursday.
The project involved the construction of a 22 000 m2 wind tower manufacturing facility and associated infrastructure and would include bulk earthworks; a 600 m2 office block; 400 m2 of change rooms and ablution facilities; concreted, paved and gravel hardstand areas; site works, services, paving to roads, parking areas and walkways; and a perimeter fence and gatehouse.
Coega Development Corporation (CDC), in January, on behalf of DCD, requested interested contractors to bid for the construction of the wind tower manufacturing facility and associated infrastructure, while the Industrial Development Corporation provided funding for DCD to lease the infrastructure, acquire the needed equipment and finance working capital requirements.
DCD would oversee the manufacturing of about 110 tubular steel towers a year.
However, King told Engineering News Online at the official sod-turning to mark the start of construction, that the facility’s capacity would be increased to about 180 towers a year, depending on the outcome of the third bidding round of government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) and the number of other local wind tower manufacturers that would enter the market.
The towers would be supplied to successful bidders in rounds two and three, as well as further rounds of the REIPPPP.
King indicated that DCD would start employing workers by June this year, when training would also kick off, both on site as well as at the company’s Vereeniging-based ring-roller factory.
He added that DCD had set in place six new Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority-accredited courses to cater for the facility.
Meanwhile, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters stated that, through skills development initiatives, the wind tower manufacturing facility, which would initially create nearly 200 operational jobs and more than 600 construction jobs, was in line with government’s drive to eradicate poverty, inequality and unemployment.
She pointed out that the Eastern Cape had succeeded in positioning itself as an energy capital, as it had ample energy resource potential in terms of wind and solar, while also exhibiting biomass and biofuel potential.
Peters noted that the REIPPPP third bidding window was currently under way, adding that she would make an announcement regarding the programme’s financial close later this month.
Eastern Cape MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and TourismMcebisi Jonas added that, of the 2 460 MW in projects allocated in the first two rounds of the REIPPPP, 836 MW had been in the Eastern Cape.
“With two industrial zones, the Eastern Cape is well placed to be a renewable-energy hub,” he noted.
The wind tower manufacturing facility was being established to support the localisation of the wind turbine business in South Africa, with DCD Wind Towers indicating its intention to locally source as much of the input materials as possible.
Although the towers would be classified as 100% locally manufactured, King noted that localisation was being inhibited by various factors, including the inefficient supply chain in South Africa, which was attributable to, besides others, costly locally produced input materials, compared with their imported counterparts.