Largest wind farm in South Africa’s first renewables round

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The 135-MW Cookhouse wind power project, in the Eastern Cape, has emerged as the largest, in nameplate capacity terms, among the first 28 preferred projects listed by the South African government on Wednesday.

The project require an investment in excess of R2.4-billion over the next 24 months.

Cookhouse is slightly larger than Mainstream Renewable Power’s Jeffreys Bay wind project, which came in a close second at 133.86 MW. Besides wind, the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant to have moved into the next phase is the 100-MW KaXu Solar One project, while the largest-capacity solar photovoltaic projects are the Kathu solar energy facility and the Solar Capital De Aar project at 75 MW each.

The Cookhouse development will employ Suzlon’s 2.1 MW turbines and is being developed jointly by African Clean Energy Developments (ACED), African Infrastructure Investment Managers, a company held by Old Mutual Investment Group and Macquarie Capital, and AFPOC Limited.

The project reportedly already has an environmental record of decision that caters for the possible erection of up to 200 wind turbines on an incremental basis.

The Cookhouse Wind Farm is expected to achieve financial close in June 2012 with project’s debt being fully underwritten by Nedbank and Standard Bank. Construction equity will be provided by Globeleq, AFPOC Limited, AIIF II, IDEAS, and the Industrial Development Corporation. Additionally, 15% of the project will be owned by the Cookhouse Wind Farm Community Trust, comprising members of the local communities of Cookhouse, Bedford and Somerset East.

ACED MD Thomas Donnelly describes the Department of Energy’s inclusion of the project in its list of preferred bidders as an “important milestone”.

“The Cookhouse project marks a major first step in our plans to build a 1 GW renewable energy portfolio over the next three years, with our 200 turbine agreement with Suzlon at the core of our plans,” Donnelly adds.

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