THE Windy City is going to be living up to its reputation.
Two wind farms that will generate a combined 70MW of power are planned for Port Elizabeth – one in the Coega industrial development zone (IDZ) and the other on the outskirts of the city.
They form part of a basket of renewable energy projects, worth nearly R2-billion, that the Central Energy Fund (CEF) is developing in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
In addition to the wind farms, the projects include landfill to gas, biogas to energy that is being investigated by Singapore-based company Straits Chemicals, solid waste to energy, a number of sites on the Orange/Fish River Transfer Scheme for micro-hydro-electric projects and several solar projects that include the installation of 120000 solar water heaters across the city.
The metro’s director of projects, Peter Neilson, says the wind farm in Port Elizabeth will generate 23MW in the first phase with a possible extension to 100MW, adding that the environmental impact assessment was “progressing well” and once this was finalised and arrangements put in place to raise some R550-million, “the wind farm could be in production by September 2011”.
Neilson says there is a “big appetite” among investors for renewable energy projects and they were “lining up” awaiting the approval of the environmental studies and from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa.
Leading international wind turbine manufacturers and developers of wind farms descended on the city in what CEF described as “a significant step forward” in the development of the 23MW wind farm.
More than 40 companies from countries like Germany, Belgium, Denmark, France and South Korea have expressed interest in the R550-million project.
Belgium-based renewable energy company Electrawinds plans to erect 25 turbines with a combined generation of 57.5MW at the Coega IDZ with the EIA already under way for a project the company says will generate enough power for 100000 homes.
Nelson Mandela Bay is not the only area that is going green.
Several other towns in the western part of the Eastern Cape are involved in wind projects with Genesis-Eco having been given a record of decision for a 16MW facility at Jeffreys Bay that will now become part of a larger wind farm with the capacity to generate 180MW.
In addition, a wind farm that will stretch 90 square kilometres across several properties between Cookhouse and Bedford is being planned and another at Kariega near Port Alfred, while a R1-billion project in the Tsitsikamma area that will generate 100MW – enough to power up to 400000 homes – is also under way.
That will bring particular benefits for the Mfengu community that returned to their ancestral home in the area after being forcibly removed to the Ciskei in 1977. The community will benefit through the Tsitsikamma Development Trust that signed an agreement for the construction of the wind farm at the end of last year.
And Grahamstown is also getting on the green bandwagon with a planned 36MW wind farm, although the project has upset the Benedictine monks who live in the area and maintain that it will destroy the “contemplative life” they have sought to build over the past 12 years. – The Herald