Electricity + Control

South Africa’s five largest renewable energy projects, measured in terms of investment, are all multi-billion rand wind farms that contribute a collective 645.71 MW to the grid. 

Together, the country’s renewable energy projects contribute 3, 773 MW, compared to the 43, 485 MW currently delivered by fossil fuels. This is according to information released by the Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme to Parliament in March 2018.

Wind farms lead SAs green energy race

The existing investment in South Africa's sustainable energy projects totals R 142 billion, almost five times what SA paid for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Added to this the fact that government has recently signed contracts worth an additional R 56 billion, expected to add 2, 300 MW of electricity to the national grid over the next five years, with 27 independent renewable energy power producers.

Cookhouse Wind Farm ― 135.8 MW, Eastern Cape  

The largest of the renewable projects is the R 2.4 billion Cookhouse Wind Farm, comprising 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 of the Eastern Cape, and spans 2, 600 ha of pastoral land. This land is leased from a local farmer and one can expect to see plenty of sheep grazing below the blades.

Suzlon Wind Energy South Africa constructed the wind farm and is currently responsible for operation and maintenance. The wind farm which first supplied electricity to the grid in March 2014 is collectively owned by Old Mutual, the African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) and the Local Community Trust.

Gouda Wind Project – 135.5 MW, Western Cape    

Coming in a close second is the R 2.7 billion Gouda Wind Farm, located in the Drakenstein municipality of the Western Cape. Comprising 46 AW3000 turbines mounted on 100 M high concrete towers, this 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%), the farm comprises

Jeffreys Bay ― 135.11 MW, Eastern Cape

The R 2.9 billion Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm comprises 60 turbines ― each weighing 424 tonnes ― situated on a 3, 700 ha farm just outside of this popular surfing town. 

Minimum wind speeds of four metres per second (mps) are required for the turbines to turn, with an ideal speed of 12 mps. These turbines are able to perform as many as 29 revolutions per minute.

If the wind gets too strong, at around 25 mps, the turbines will decelerate automatically and then rotate to 90 degrees.  

 Amakhala Emoyeni Wind Farm ― 131.05 MW, Eastern Cape  

This 131.5 MW wind farm, located in Amakhala Emoyeni ― meaning 'aloes in the wind' in isiXhosa ― forms part of 13, 000 ha of leased agricultural farms near Bedford, a small town in the Eastern Cape.

The R 3.94 billion wind farm, which erected its first wind turbine in 2015, comprises 56 Nordex N117 / 2,400 turbines with a capacity of 2.4 MW each.

Initial works included the construction of 35 km of internal roads for the installation of the wind farm and future operations.

The project is jointly owned by Exxaro Resources, Tata Power and Cennergi and is only the first phase of a planned development.  

Enel’s Gibson Bay Wind Farm ― 108.25 MW Eastern Cape  

Owned by Italian energy giant, Enel Green Power, this 108.25 MW farm covers 4, 300 ha of land in the Kouga Municipality of the Eastern Cape.

Along with 37 Nordex 3.0 MW N117 turbines, the company provided free Wi-Fi to 1 000 learners within the area’s local schools and built 40 km of road.