Construction of the 80MW Noupoort Wind Farm by Mainstream Renewable Power in South Africa’s Northern Cape has begun with a ground-breaking opening ceremony.
The wind farm project is one of the first to start construction as part of the third round South Africa’s Renewable Energy Procurement Programme (REPP). Mainstream Renewable Power has been awarded a total of 848 MW of wind and solar projects under the programme since the first award in 2011. Three wind and solar facilities were delivered into commercial operation by the company last year under the first round of the programme and Mainstream is now constructing three wind farms in the Northern Cape, totalling 360 MW, of which Noupoort is one. The opening ceremony was attended by representatives from the community of the surrounding Umsobomvu Local Municipality, including Ward Counsellors and the Mayor and the wind farm is expected to start commercial operation in mid-2016.
Mainstream has also been awarded preferred bidder status for an additional two wind farms in the country’s Northern and Western Capes.
The Noupoort Wind Farm is owned by a consortium led by Lekela Power, a joint venture between Actis, and Mainstream Renewable Power. Other members include Thebe Investment Corporation; The IDEAS Managed Fund; Futuregrowth Asset Management; Genesis Eco-Energy in partnership with Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital; and the Noupoort Renewable Energy Trust, which was established with the objective of carrying out public benefit activities to assist the local community through economic development.
“In previous years, commercial activity in Noupoort was heavily dependent on railway activity” said Martina Flanagan Project Manager of Noupoort Wind Farm. Ms Flanagan previously worked on the construction of one of the Jeffreys Bay wind farms. “After demand on the rail network dwindled, the town suffered from a significant decline in local business leading to increasingly difficult socio-economic conditions for the local population. As the Noupoort Wind Farm is being built on an undeveloped site surrounding a small rural community, it will help boost the local economy and have a positive impact on the community. Already many people are being employed, with 162 locals working on the roads, electrical works and foundations for the wind turbines, a number of foundations have been cast to date. Employment of local labour will continue throughout the construction period.”
The wind farm is expected to generate around 305,000 MW of clean, renewable energy to the national grid eacy year. At full capacity, it is expected to supply enough green electricity to power approximately 70,000 average South African homes and avoid roughly 300,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year when compared to traditional fossil fuel power plants.
Siemens Wind Power will supply the turbines which will be manufactured at the new Gestamp Wind Turbine Tower Factory in Atlantis, Western Cape. Delivery of the turbines is due to commence in October this year.
A consortium comprised of Murray and Roberts Construction and Consolidated Power Projects will complete the civila and electrical works.