17 October 2014
Electricity utility Eskom has plugged its first wind farm into the national grid. The Sere wind farm, 350km north of Cape Town, is the utility’s first large-scale renewable energy project.
The farm is a major step towards reducing South Africa’s reliance on coal-powered energy and is in accordance with the National Development Pan which makes allowance for renewable energy projects.
While the farm has been plugged in, it will only be fully operational in March next year, when it will contribute an additional 100MW to the country’s electricity supply. At the moment it can generate 16MW of power, enough to light up 30 000 homes. Along with generating power, the project has created almost 400 direct jobs to the Matzikama community during construction. The project will also need skilled maintenance technicians over it estimated 20-year lifespan. In this same period it is expected to reduce carbon emissions by up to six million tons.
Eskom is collaborating with Agence Française de Developpement, African Development Bank and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), and technology company Siemens to build the farm, which upon completion will comprise 46 type SWT-2.3-108 wind turbines. Each turbine will be able to generate 2.3MW of electricity. Siemens will also assist with servicing and maintenance for five years after total completion on the farm.