These large new wind and solar projects will deliver electricity from this month
Several renewable energy projects are set to reach commercial operation this October. Together they will bring a combined 275 megawatts (MW) onto Eskom’s strained grid. This year has been the worst year for load shedding on record.
The wind and solar projects are part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP) Bid Window 4, of which 27 of these projects were delayed waiting for final sign-offs from Eskom two years ago.
Altogether they can add a total of 2,300MW to Eskom’s struggling grid - provided the wind is blowing and the sun is shining at that time.
The plants are only starting to come online now due to delays brought about by Covid-19 lockdowns. Twelve wind farms went into lockdown during their construction phase and were only allowed to resume activity during late May, having cost the teams over 50 days of work.
Under normal circumstances it takes roughly 18 months to build solar and wind farms, once all the documentation has been signed off.
Here are some of the big projects that will come online this month, with their construction viewed from space.
143MW worth of wind is due to come online in October.
Wind projects are predominantly located along the coastal regions, and the Western Cape has three wind farms presently under construction.
33MW Excelsior wind farm outside Swellendam
The Excelsior Wind Energy Facility can be found 30 km south-west of Swellendam, comprising thirteen 2.5 MW turbines.
Perdekraal East wind farm 110MW in Ceres.
Almost two years after construction commenced on Perdekraal East Wind Farm, the project completed its Grid Code Tests, the final milestone before achieving its Commercial Operations Date (COD).
“We are pleased to be heading into the last phase of this wind farm’s construction and can already visualise COD, which we expect to achieve in the next two to four weeks,” Glenn Hobson, construction project manager for Perdekraal Wind Farm, told Business Insider SA.
Located 80km northeast of Ceres, the wind farm will produce 110MW, and spans an area of 3,055 hectares. The site was chosen because of its excellent wind resource and its proximity to national roads for wind turbine transportation.
Here is an updated list of estimated deadlines for other projects*:
A further 276MW is expected to come online in December, according to the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), which represents IPP wind farms.
132MW in solar is coming online as well
Two large new solar power plants in the Northern Cape – Aggeneys Solar Project (46MW) as well as the Konkoonsies II (86MW) - are connected to the grid and should be operating in October.
These sister solar plants, situated within 35kms of each other, are owned by South African power producer BioTherm Energy, and are expected to produce enough each year to power 110,000 households collectively.
BioTherm Energy, has been operating in South Africa since 2003. The company is owned by Actis, the world’s leading emerging markets investor, following an acquisition in 2019.
Aggeneys Solar Project
According to the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA), these are the solar projects still to come:
Bokamoso - 68MW Matlosana, North West
De Wildt - 50MW Brits, North West
Droogfontein 2 - 75MW Riverton, Northern Cape
Dyasons Klip 1- 75MW Upington, Northern Cape
Dyasons Klip 2- 75MW Upington, Northern Cape
Greefspan - 55MW Douglas, North West
Solar Capital Orange- 75MW Loeriesfontein, Northern Cape
Waterloo- 75MW Vryberg, Northern Cape
Zeerust - 75MW Zeerust, North West
Sirius Solar PV One (86MW) in Upington, in the Northern Cape has been producing electricity since February 2020.
New energy projects that will bring 6,800MW to the grid will be launched soon
Last week, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe gazetted government's plans to begin the bidding process for Bid Window 5.
The gazette determines that Eskom must buy 6,800 new megawatts (MW) of wind and solar PV power, while 513MW should be procured to be generated from storage, 3,000MW from gas and 1,500MW from coal – bringing in 11,800MW of new electricity capacity.
South Africa has 30,000MW daily capacity, when all its aging coal plants are running optimally.
According to SAWEA, the new bid window will unlock an estimated R40 billion in annual investment in the wind energy industry alone.