De Aar in the Karoo is currently the focus of one of China’s largest power companies.
Over the weekend Zhu Yongpeng, president of the state-controlled electricity company China Guodian, accompanied by some of his top executives and the general manager of the Chinese wind-power company Longyuan, a subsidiary of China Guodian, got together in De Aar to meet the local authorities in the district.
China Guodian envisages establishing a 100MW wind farm in the De Aar area, in collaboration with South Africa’s Mulilo Energy. This is part of a portfolio of six to nine wind farms across the entire country with a capacity of more than 1 500MW.
The De Aar project can be expanded to generate 300MW to 400MW, said Mulilo chief executive Johnny Cullum. The first phase, with a capacity of about 100MW, involves an investment of R1.8bn.
China Guodian, together with Mulilo, has already erected a couple of anemometer masts, the data from which will be monitored in China.
China Guodian is considering building a wind turbine assembly plant and blade factory in South Africa if there is sufficient demand for wind turbines in this country and in the rest of Africa. Such plants could create more than 1 500 jobs.
China Guodian has power stations generating 85 000MW in China. These include nuclear power, coal and hydroelectricity plants. Its wind power subsidiary, Longyuan, each year builds new wind farms generating 2 000MW and it aims to become the world’s biggest wind-farm operator by 2016.
If everything goes according to plan, construction on the De Aar wind farm could begin by March 2011, and the first stage be completed by 2012 with 67 1.5MW wind turbines.
Sindisile Madyo, manager for local economic development at the Pixley ka Seme district municipality, said the region was focusing on solar and wind power as well as hydroelectricity and biomass in its strategy to become the future focal point for renewable energy in the Northern Cape.