Cape Town – A Western Cape wind farm has taken the first step to help South Africa transition to a cleaner energy mix while providing quick grid power to avoid future load shedding.
Independent power producer (IPP) BioTherm Energy last week connected its 33MW Excelsior wind farm to the country’s national power grid.
The move came after the company successfully completed the commissioning of its 13 wind turbine generators. This is the first wind farm in the province that is part of the government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) bid window 4, to reach this key milestone.
Finance and Economic MEC David Maynier said: “This is a great example of how IPPs can bring infrastructure projects online on time and on budget.”
“Considering the urgent need for additional, reliable energy solutions, this reinforces the need for Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe to sign and gazette the final Section 34 ministerial determinations in order to open up the REIPPPP bid window 5, the Gas Independent Power Producer programme (GasIPP), and energy storage procurement,” said Maynier.
Chief executive of BioTherm Energy Robert Skjodt said that the IPP, which began construction two years ago, is expected to achieve its commercial operations date in October.
“The wind farm is connected to the grid through an on-site substation and a dedicated 132kV power line connecting it to the Vryheid substation, located close to the plant in Swellendam,” said Skjodt.
“We are pleased to mark this pivotal point in the construction of Excelsior Wind, with all 13 wind turbines commissioned and connected to the power grid and are confident that we’ll be able to announce the commercial operations next month, at which time it will begin generating over 132GWh of renewable power each year.”
The portfolio of South African IPPs developed by Robert Skjodt also includes Aggeneys Solar, Konkoonsies II Solar and Golden Valley Wind. Additionally, the company’s portfolio reaches over the South African borders, to include the 100MW Kipeto Wind in Kenya.
Looking ahead, the South African Renewable Energy Council (Sarec) hopes that the long-awaited fifth bid window (BW5) of the REIPPPP can be fast-tracked in light of energy regulator Nersa’s recent concurrence with a ministerial determination opening the way for the procurement of 11 813MW of new generation capacity.
In a statement signed by chairperson Terence Govender, Sarec said the determination came ahead of its initially anticipated date.
“This gives our members hope that the BW5 request for proposals (RFP) could be expedited,” said Govender.
“This announcement is a welcomed step for the country’s economic recovery post Covid-19”.