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The Largest Green Energy Projects in South Africa

As Eskom fails to keep unplanned breakdowns at below 9,500MW – the level at which it is forced to consider load shedding – since the start of December, there is growing pressure on government to fast-track renewable power projects.

Ntombifuthi Ntuli, CEO of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), believes just by lifting the Maximum Export Capacity (MEC) on all operating wind farms, which governs how much energy is permitted to be exported by wind farm power generators to the grid, 500MW of energy could immediately be brought online.

According to the Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (IPPPP), 3,976MW of electricity generation capacity from 64 IPP projects has been connected to the national grid. Wind makes up the lion’s share providing 52% of renewable energy to the grid. Among the largest are 3 wind farms that contribute almost 140MW each.

IPPs are nowhere near the 36,400MW (41,000MW if you include Medupi and Kusile which aren’t finished yet) delivered by coal. But this picture could change quickly: unlike coal power stations, which take years to build – Medupi has been under construction since 2007 – renewable projects can be built quite quickly and there’s a good track record of them sticking to schedules.

There is some good news on the way. IPP contribution is expected to go up to 6,422MW once all 112 projects come online. These are part of Bid window 4, the last bid window to be signed off by Eskom. These are currently the largest sustainable energy projects:

Longyuan Mulilo Green Energy Number 2 North Wind Energy Facility – 138.96MW

Longyuan Mulilo’s Number 2 North Wind Farm is one of the largest wind farms in South Africa. It is a massive 138.95MW farm found a few kilometers outside of De Aar, in the Northern Cape. Along with a second 100MW wind farm, also in De Aar, Longyuan South Africa has invested almost R5 billion into the two projects. Longyuan SA is a wholly owned subsidiary of China Longyuan Power Group Corporation – one of the world’s largest wind-power developers.

Loeriesfontein Wind Farm 2 – 138.23MW

On 8 December 2017, Loeriesfontein Wind Farm was delivered into operation on schedule, and on budget, as part of the third round bid window of the REIPPP. With a generation capacity of 140MW the R3.5 billion farm boasts 61 Siemens SWT-2.3-108 turbines. The Loeriesfontein Wind Farm forms part of a joint venture between global energy producers Mainstream Renewable Power and Lekela Power.

The site was chosen because of its excellent wind resource, its proximity to national roads for wind turbine transportation, the favourable construction conditions, municipality and local stakeholder support, the straightforward electrical connection into the Eskom grid, and studies showed that there would be little environmental impact.

Khobab Wind – 137.74MW

Khobab Wind Farm, also built by Mainstream Renewable Power, is located right next door to Loeriesfontein Wind Farm. Like its neighbour the farm contributes almost 140MW. The wind farm was estimated to cost R3.5 billion.

Cookhouse Wind Farm – 135.8MW

The R2.4 billion Cookhouse Wind Farm comprises of 66 Suzlon S88 wind turbine generators with a capacity of 135.8 MW.

It is located just outside of Cookhouse, in the Blue Crane Route Municipality in the Eastern Cape, and spans 2,600 hectares of pastoral land. The land is leased from a local farmer and you can expect to see plenty of sheep grazing below the blades. The wind farm first supplied electricity to the grid in March 2014.

Suzlon Wind Energy South Africa constructed the wind farm and is currently responsible for operation and maintenance. It is owned by Old Mutual, the African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) and the Local Community Trust.

Gouda Wind Project – 135.5MW

The R2,7 billion Gouda Wind Farm is owned by a consortium of ACCIONA Energía (51%); Aveng (29%); Soul City Broad-Based Empowerment Company (10%); and the Gouda Wind Energy Community Trust (10%). Located in the Drakenstein munisipality, Western Cape, it has 46 AW3000 turbines mounted on 100 meter-high concrete towers.

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], Anastasia Palagutina [2].

World Bank Cuts South African GDP Growth Forecast Due to Eskom’s Load Shedding

The World Bank is the first key institution to cut its economic growth forecast for South Africa to below 1% for 2020 due to electricity supply concerns.

It now expects the economy to expand by 0.9% this year, the Washington-based lender said Wednesday in its Global Economic Prospects report. That compares with an estimate of 1% in its Africa Pulse report released in October and is well below government forecasts. Its outlook for Africa’s most-industrialized economy is “markedly weaker” because it sees electricity supply and infrastructure constraints inhibiting domestic growth with weaker global economic conditions weighing on export demand.

The bank’s revision comes as Eskom which generates about 95% of the country’s electricity, resumes rolling blackouts earlier than expected. The power cuts threaten to drag on an economy stuck in the longest downward cycle since 1945 and that hasn’t expanded by more than 2% annually since 2013.

The debt-laden power utility, described by Goldman Sachs Group as the biggest threat to South Africa’s economy, put the country at risk of a second recession in as many years after it implemented the most severe power cuts to date in December. Gross domestic product growth likely slowed to 0.4% in 2019, the World Bank said.

The World Bank sees GDP growth averaging 1.4% in 2021-22 if President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration is able to ramp up structural reforms and address policy uncertainty, and if there’s a recovery in public and private sector investment.

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

South African Cabinet Approves New National Energy Plan

In the midst of more electricity outages, courtesy of faults with Eskom’s power generation plans, the South African Cabinet has approved a new national energy plan.

Cabinet on Thursday announced it had approved the promulgation of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), South Africa’s policy blueprint for the electricity sector.

The IRP spells out a proposed energy mix for the country until 2030. In a statement, Cabinet said “most of the inputs” from experts in the sector, the public and academia, received during a public consultation process last year were included in the 2019 IRP.

“The plan proposes nine interventions to ensure the country responds to the energy needs for the next decade. The interventions draw from the current baseline of the demand and supply of the country’s energy and the country’s international obligations to the minimum emission standards,” the statement said.

“The plan remains within the policy framework of pursuing a diversified energy mix that reduces reliance on a single or few primary energy sources. It will be revised in line with the changing energy sector environment.”

The approved IRP can be accessed on the mineral resources and energy website after it is gazetted. The IRP was released as the country is experiencing another round of rotational power cuts as Eskom moves to fix boiler tube leaks at five of the utility’s generating units.

Business Unity South Africa this week warned that any further delay in releasing the IRP would prejudice procurement and investment decisions to ensure security of power supply.

 

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Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Jan Kubita [1], [2].