Noupoort Wind Farm has been officially declared operational by Mr Mzwandile Toto, District Mayor of Umsobumvo Municipality.
The ZAR 1.9 billion 80 MW wind farm consists of 35 wind turbines and is owned by a consortium that includes Thebe Investment Corporation; The IDEAS Managed Fund; Futuregrowth Asset Management; Genesis Eco-Energy in partnership with Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital. All the turbines are now producing clean renewable electricity, generating enough power to meet the needs of almost 70,000 South African households.
The wind farm is situated on a 7,500 hectare site in the Umsobomvu Municipal Area, 10 km east of Noupoort in the Northern Cape. The site was chosen because of its excellent wind resource, its proximity to national roads for wind turbine transportation, the favourable construction conditions, municipality and local stakeholder support, the straightforward electrical connection into the Eskom grid, and minimal environmental impact.
Miss Aniqah Misbach, Assistant Project Manager for Mainstream Renewable Power, passed the keys to Mr Dennis Solomon, the new Plant Manager for Noupoort Wind Farm during the official handover ceremony.
“We are honoured to be welcomed by the people of Noupoort who have been incredibly supportive of our project during its construction” said Mr Solomon. “It is now our chance to give back to the community during our 20-year operational period, where we will be investing through our economic development programmes.”
Mainstream’s Group Finance Director, Terry Ryan, added that the handover is of note because it is the first Round 3 wind farm to reach commercial operation and is Mainstream’s fourth renewable energy project to reach commercial operation in South Africa. The company has also developed and built the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm as well as the Droogfontein and De Aar solar facilities from Round 1. It is also currently building two wind farms near Loeriesfontein in the Northern Cape which are on track to start operating in December next year.
Commercial activity in Noupoort was previously heavily dependent on the railway, which has largely dwindled due to the decline in rail activity. This makes the socio economic and enterprise development initiatives initiated by the company even more relevant to the local community of Noupoort than where wind energy projects are situated close to prosperous regions.
Noupoort Wind Farm is currently implementing various economic development projects, which include Capacity Building for existing and prospective entrepreneurs; local maths and science development programmes that incorporate science and computer labs as well as local Wi-Fi infrastructure.
Lekela Power, a joint venture between Actis and Mainstream Renewable Power, is a pan-African renewable energy platform, with more than 1,300MW of wind and solar power projects in its portfolio. South Africa is an important renewable energy hub for the group which has a total of 360 MW in assets, of which two wind farms are currently still in construction.
The Noupoort Community Trust, which owns a 5 percent share in Noupoort Wind Farm, has been equally funded by the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Noupoort Wind Farm Shareholder. A local community Trustee has already been appointed. The Trust was established to carry out public benefit activities in the local community.