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Renewable projects globally and locally are showing nuclear the door. A project, which is shrouded in controversy, however still has the backing of government and parastatals like Eskom, despite the costs, risks and timelines. Some argue it could even bankrupt the country. Yet, renewables silently show the way. And as they say in baseball, 3 strikes and you’re out. In the below piece Bev Mortimer writes about a wind project in the Eastern Cape, and how it’s generating enough power for 50,000 houses and cost R2 billion. This follows 2 recent articles on the same subject. One looked at how renewable projects in Scandinavia, which produce such cheap electricity, are no longer seen as viable projects to invest in. The other showed how Spanish developer Acciona SA built a 94-megawatt Sishen solar project in about 16 months in the Northern Cape. The case for nuclear is being challenged by renewables in practice, costs and delivery time. Maybe someone in government’s listening but then again probably not according to Cees Bruggemans, and it doesn’t matter if you’re blue, black or purple. – Stuart Lowman
by Bev Mortimer*
The R2bn Kouga Wind Farm at Oyster Bay in the Eastern Cape, and with 32 turbines of the fully commercial operating wind farm adding about 300 GWh pa of renewable energy to the national power grid.
MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Honourable Sakhumzi Somyo officially opened the Kouga Wind Farm that is generating enough electricity to supply approximately 50,000 average South African households with electricity annually and mitigating over 270,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. The latest CSIR report outlines that in the first six months of 2015 renewable energy provided a huge net financial benefit to the country contributing a total net benefit of R4 billion to the economy.
During the wind farm’s two-year construction period, more than 1,000 temporary jobs were created through its engineering, construction and procurement contractor, Nordex. The project also made use of the services of 15 SMEs with the focus on the local community.
The Kouga Wind Farm provides an attractive investment opportunity for its local and international investor base comprising of STANLIB Asset Management on behalf of STANLIB Infrastructure Private Equity Fund 1, Evolution One Fund, a specialised clean energy investor managed by Inspired Evolution, Red Cap Investments, Eurocape Renewables, Afri-Coast Engineers and a local community trust financed by the Industrial Development Corporation. These investors secured long-term debt funding of approximately R1.6 billion for the construction and operation of the project from commercial lenders including Standard Bank, Nedbank, Liberty, Mergence and the Industrial Development Corporation.
A key focus of the Kouga Wind Farm is uplifting the communities in which the wind farm is involved, and the neighbouring communities of Sea Vista and Umzamowethu are the primary beneficiaries with the Kouga Wind Farm already investing about R1.7 million in health, child care, food security, education, sport, transport and infrastructure development.
MEC Somyo, who was on site for the official opening and cut the “Circle of Friends” ribbon, said the national renewable energy procurement process required increasing commitments towards local content and the Eastern Cape could become a centre of sustainable energy manufacturing and supply for the African Continent.
“If the Eastern Cape can manufacture luxury vehicles of the highest quality, then given the right support and conditions, there is no doubt that the province can diversify further in the manufacturing of energy systems and components. I look to the Kouga Wind Farm and all the esteemed people here today to join hands in working towards the realisation of this vision,” said MEC Somyo.
Christopher Clarke, managing partner of Inspired Evolution and chairman of the Kouga Wind Farm, said: “We identified Red Cap and the Kouga Wind Farm early in 2010 because of the credentials of its development team, compelling wind resource, strength of the project advisors and counterparties, and the robust project management approach to minimising technology and execution risks. This positions the wind farm well for success in the future to ensure it delivers favourable investment returns to sustain its positive development impact obligations over its 20-year life, and we are very pleased to be a part of it.”
This wind farm became a benchmark for community ownership with the Kouga Wind Farm Community Development Trust holding a 26% shareholding. In addition, it is also an example of best practice in terms of environmental stewardship with the Kouga Wind Farm being instrumental in the establishment of the Greater Kromme Stewardship, a conservation initiative.
Lukhanyo Ndube, CEO of the Kouga Wind Farm, said neighbouring communities were already enjoying the benefits with R1,7 million invested in community projects from the construction phase to date, including the completion of a R300 000 mobile clinic waiting facility consisting of a waiting room, two consulting rooms and an ablution unit to serve the Umzamowethu community.
Projects are chosen to meet the needs of the community and the plans of the local municipality, based on key focus areas that were identified – namely education and literacy, skills development and training, healthcare and transport, as well as information technology and communication.
Projects include providing Sandwater Primary School in Umzamowethu with a solar powered computer lab consisting of 20 computers for learners and one for the teacher, and purchasing the ABET curriculum and training for the staff at The Rainbow School for the Disabled in Humansdorp.
Upcoming projects include assisting the Healthy Mom and Baby Clinic in Jeffrey’s Bay, supporting the Sea Vista Clinic in St Francis Bay and the Sea Vista Primary School Kitchen, the upkeep of Talhado Haven, improving the infrastructure at Sandwater Primary School, providing Environmental Management Training to community members, and giving eight tertiary education bursaries to current Grade 12 learners to study at a tertiary institution of their choice.
“I am delighted so to see that the Kouga Wind Farm has taken concrete steps towards skills development by placing so much focus on childhood development, supporting education at foundation and secondary phases, and providing bursaries for tertiary education,” said MEC Somyo.
* Bev Mortimer, formerly with top national newspapers like the Rand Daily Mail and global news agency Agence France Presse, relocated to St Francis where she runs the local newspaper, the St Francis Chronicle.
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