French boost for SA wind power

5 March 2008

South African state company Eskom has signed an agreement with French development agency Agence Française de Developpement (AFD) for a €100-million loan over 20 years to help finance a new wind farm project.

“The 100-megawatt wind farm will be built on the West Coast near the town of Koekenaap, east of Vredendal in the Western Cape and will be operational in early 2010,” the electricity company said in a statement this week.

The two companies concluded the deal last week during an official visit to South Africa by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

French companies have taken a keen interest in South Africa’s plans to upgrade its electricity infrastructure, with Alstom recently being awarded a €1.3-billion contract to supply turbines and related infrastructure for a new coal-fired power station in Mpumalanga province, and Areva bidding to build the country’s next generation of nuclear power stations.

The state-owned utility spent time evaluating various wind technologies available, as well as issues such as storage systems, costs and performance data at its wind energy demonstration facility near Klipheuwel outside Cape Town.

“This project is a first step in applying the information gained from this pilot facility, and forms part of Eskom’s overall renewable energy strategy,” Eskom said.

“The signing of the financing framework will initiate what Eskom believes will be a long term partnership between Eskom and the AFD that will support Eskom’s broad climate change strategy and capacity expansion programme.”

Darling Wind Farm
The Koekenaap facility will be South Africa’s second commercial wind farm. The first one is busy being established near Darling, a small town north-west of Cape Town.

The Darling project is a public-private partnership between the Central Energy Fund, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Darling Independent Power Producing Company and the South African and Danish Governments.

The farm will use four 1.3-megawatt wind turbines to generate an expected annual 13.2-gigawatt hours of “green electricity”.

This will be injected into Eskom’s national grid, transferred to Cape Town’s electricity network and sold onward to buyers prepared to pay a surcharge of around 25c per killowatt-hour for electricity generated through renewable sources.

The City of Cape Town agreed in August 2006 to be the first such buyer/supplier, and will purchase electricity from Darling Wind Farm over a period of 20 years.

SAinfo reporter

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