Two more wind farms have started commercial operation in South Africa this month. With a total capacity of 280 megawatts, the two neighbouring wind farms of Loeriesfontein and Khobab together form the largest single area of wind power plants in the country.
South Africa is the only African country among the G20 states. Up to now, however, fossil fuels have been the primary energy source, but even in Africa the idea of the energy transition has gained ground. Three to four years ago, South Africa was considered a great insider’s tip among the up-and-coming markets, but the country now already has an increasingly better infrastructure for producing electricity from renewable energies even in remote areas – and above all for connecting it to the grid. Contributing to this were, among other things, a government programme that has specifically promoted the expansion of renewable energies. By 2030, around 18 gigawatts or 42 percent of the total power output is to come from renewable sources.
Two more wind farms from renewable energy supplier Lekela will contribute to this in the future. The parks Loeriesfontein and Khobab are located in the province of Northern Cape in the northwest of the country. The province is the largest in terms of surface area in South Africa and occupies about 30.5% of the country’s total area, but it is also the least populated province. However, it also has the highest density of regenerative power plants.
On a total area of 6,653 hectares, 122 Siemens wind turbines on 99-metre-high towers – also produced locally in the Gestamp Wind Turbine Tower Factory in the province of Western Cape – are now responsible for generating energy.
Northern Cape’s prime minister, Sylvia Lucas, stressed the importance of government support at the inauguration of the wind farms: “Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) is a priority programme for the Province and proves to be a game changer. This is a sector that can assist Government to radically transform the economy. To date, over 60% of South Africa’s Independent Power Producers have been allocated to the Northern Cape. We also take pride in the fact, that as a Province we not only play host to solar farms but currently we are home to the second highest number of wind farms in the Country. Through this we are able to attract local and foreign investment to, not only the Province, but the country at large. The attraction of these investments places us at the forefront of the Renewable Energy Industry.”
In South Africa, particular emphasis is placed on enabling local communities to participate in wind energy, be it by investing in public buildings, schools and infrastructure or training centres for the industry itself. At the same time, jobs are created locally and the initiative of the communities is encouraged.
122 new wind turbines have been installed in the two wind farms in recent months (Image: Pixabay)
The two new wind farms are expected to supply 240,000 South African households with electricity in the future. “We are pleased to have added over a million megawatt hours of clean, renewable energyeach year to the country’s national grid; avoiding an estimated twenty-two million tonnes of carbon emissions over the lifespan of the projects, when compared to traditional fossil fuel power plants,” said Chis Antonopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of Lekela, the company that built the wind farms.
During construction, energy experts from Ghana were also on site to inform themselves about the projects. Through the exchange of knowledge, Lekela hopes to be able to work in other African countries as well. To date, the company has realized a portfolio of more than 1,300 megawatts of projects in South Africa, Egypt, Ghana and Senegal.