Enel begins R3bn Garob wind farm construction

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 04 Jul 2019

Italian multinational energy company Enel Green Power says it has begun construction of a multibillion-rand 140MW Garob wind farm, located near the town of Copperton, in the Northern Cape.

With a R3.1 billion price tag on the project, Enel says Garob is the third renewable project it has started building in the country.

Antonio Cammisecra, head of Enel Green Power, says: “The other projects are the Nxuba and Oyster Bay wind farms, of 140MW each, for a total capacity of 420MW under construction in South Africa.”

In August last year, the Italian company signed financing agreements for five new wind projects worth EUR1.2 billion (R18 billion).

The financing agreements were signed with lenders from Nedbank and Absa, which will fund up to 80% of the overall investment of around EUR1.2 billion on the five new wind projects, with a total capacity of about 700MW.

Yesterday, Cammisecra told ITWeb the R3.1 billion earmarked for Northern Cape “is additional to other major group investments in the country”.

He adds: “In SA, EGP has built over 520MW of renewable projects, currently in operation, since 2011, of which around 200MW of wind and over 320MW of solar plants. Specifically, the company’s fully operational solar plants are the 10MW Upington, 82.5MW Adams, 82.5MW Pulida, 66MW Tom Burke and 82.5MW Paleisheuwel.”

Cammisecra explains further that the group’s operational South African wind farms are the 88MW Nojoli and the 111MW Gibson Bay.

Enel’s ambitious plan in South Africa is buoyed by the Department of Energy’s stance on renewable energy projects. The department has already signed 27 renewable energy projects with independent power producers. These deals are reportedly valued at about R58 billion.

The support for alternative energy sources by government has been commended by many after Africa’s most advanced economy experienced the most severe power cuts in more than a decade this year. The situation worsened in March after Eskom temporarily lost its imports from Cahora Bassa hydroelectric system in Mozambique, which contributes 1 000MW to the South African grid, after a powerful cyclone.

In the fourth round of government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement, Enel won five wind projects for around 700MW. Other projects awarded to the company in round four were the 140MW Karusa and 140MW Soetwater wind plants, also located in the Northern Cape, as well as Garob, Nxuba and Oyster Bay, which the company says are all under construction.

Analysts have welcomed the Enel investment, saying more investment in renewable energy is required to meet the country’s emissions target.

Sunny Morgan, MD of Enerlogy, says: “More importantly, we need greater investment in wind and solar to address the climate crisis. I don’t think enough people recognise the existential risk the climate crisis poses and how effective renewable energy is at addressing that challenge.

“As the rollouts of new renewable energy projects are signed and those ones under construction are completed and brought online, the impact on the economy will be significant: it adds clean energy capacity to the grid, helps to lessen the impact of load-shedding and outages, and this will give business and investors confidence that we are addressing the issue of security of supply.”

Morgan believes government is an essential enabler of the industry and wants it to be more involved.

“We need policy certainty, enabling legislation and a commitment to advance renewable energy if the industry is to succeed. The government, together with the industry, must also support the ‘just energy transition’, foster local investment and ensure the manufacturing side of key components is supported.”