New wind energy projects to fire up W Cape

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Two new wind energy projects are set to power the Western Cape.
Two new wind energy projects are set to power the Western Cape.

Two new wind energy projects are set to power the Western Cape province following the recent signing of multibillion-rand renewable energy deals.

These new projects are the Perdekraal East Wind Farm, located approximately 30km north of Touwsrivier in the Cape Winelands District, and the Excelsior Wind Energy Facility at Swellendam.

The projects have been signed off for the national Renewable Energy Power Producer Procurement Programme in the Western Cape.

Tertuis Simmers, the Democratic Alliance's (DA's) spokesperson on environmental affairs and development planning in the Western Cape, says these projects will assist in reducing the carbon footprint in the province.

In April, energy minister Jeff Radebe finally signed the long-awaited renewable energy deals valued at about R56 billion. The signing marked the conclusion of 27 power purchase agreements under Bid Window 3.5 and 4 of the Renewable Energy Power Producer Procurement Programme.

"I will also write to the minister of energy to enquire how many employment opportunities for the residents of the Western Cape will be created from the two projects that have already been signed off," says Simmers.

"Taking into consideration South Africa's exceptionally high contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions' the potentially-catastrophic implications of climate change' and the country's particular vulnerability to such impacts' the DA in the Western Cape believes urgent steps need to be taken to ensure a rapid transition away from coal and towards renewable energy' combined with serious efforts to improve energy-efficiency," he adds.

The 110MW Perdekraal East Wind Farm has completed all its development activities and has all 42 permits, including the Environmental Authorisation and the Civil Aviation Authority Approval, in place.

This project uses 48 wind turbines, each capable of producing 2.3MW. Each turbine has a 108-metre rotor diameter and a 115MM hub height. It will provide approximately 360GWh each year of clean, economic and renewable energy to the national grid.

The Excelsior Wind Energy Facility will have a concentrated capacity of 31.9MW and nameplate capacity of 32.5MW. The facility features 13 wind turbines, each with a hub height of 90 metres and rated capacity output of 2.5MW.

The wind farm will be connected to the grid through an on-site sub-station and a dedicated 132KV line connected to the Vryheid sub-station.

Simmers notes the Department of Energy says more than 70% of SA's primary energy needs are reliant on coal.

"Although the National Energy Act 34 of 2008 assigns the mandate for primary energy supply and transformation to the national government, the Western Cape government plays an important role in facilitating alternative energy development in the province and is establishing conditions at local government level that encourage the production of renewable energy," says Simmers.

He points out that various initiatives launched by the Western Cape government include working with municipalities to enable solar users to feed electricity back into the grid.

"This system opens up the energy market, attracts large investment in rooftop solar PV, is low-risk and carbon-neutral, and can be immensely beneficial for rural or energy-constrained municipalities."

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