Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) — Suzlon Energy Ltd., India’s largest maker of wind turbines, said it plans to install 800 megawatts of wind energy plants in South Africa over the next two years as the country looks to reduce its power shortage.
“South Africa has huge wind potential,” Suzlon Chairman Tulsi Tanti said in an e-mailed statement today. It is “our intention to play a major role in bringing that to fruition.”
Suzlon, based in Ahmedabad in central India, has opened an office in Johannesburg to pursue opportunities. “We believe wind power can help South Africa deliver the power the country needs, along with energy security required,” Tanti said.
South Africa is battling a power shortage after the government halted expansion plans by state-owned electricity utility Eskom Holdings Ltd. for four years until 2004 while it tried and failed to convince privately owned companies to build power plants.
Suzlon is the second wind turbine manufacturer to open an office in South Africa. Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems AS, the world’s largest turbine manufacturer, opened an office in Johannesburg in June to serve the southern African region.
South Africa, the world’s largest platinum producer, is looking to new energy sources after a power shortage that forced a five-day shutdown of most mines in the country in early 2008.
The government is considering a 5,000 megawatt solar energy park which would be the world’s largest if built, while Eskom is planning a 100 megawatt solar project at Upington in the country’s Northern Cape province.
“South Africa has good infrastructure, good wind mapping resources and a skilled workforce making it an attractive destination to develop wind energy projects,” Vestas spokesman Andrew Hilton said on Sept. 30.
Both Vestas and Suzlon have said they are bidding for project licenses in partnership with various developers in South Africa’s forthcoming renewable energy feed-in tariff program, designed to encourage the adoption of alternative energy.
Eskom plans to start a tender process in November for the nation’s first commercial renewable energy projects.
South Africa’s so-called integrated resources plan calls for 1,025 megawatts of renewable energy from independent power producers to be in operation by 2013, of which 400 megawatts should be wind energy.
The country’s second integrated resource plan is due to be published before the end of the year and is expected to increase the amount of new generation capacity allocated to renewable energy technologies over the next 20 years.
Suzlon has appointed Silas Zimu as chief executive officer of its new South African operations, it said earlier.