Green light for West Coast wind farm in Vredendal
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Green light for West Coast wind farm in Vredendal

The construction of the Sere wind farm in Vredendal is expected to be completed by the end of 2013, but power utility Eskom aspires to have the 100-MW wind project completed “much earlier” than indicated, MD for resources and strategy Dr Steve Lennon said this week.

Speaking at the official launch of the flagship project, held on the sidelines of the COP 17 international climate talks in Durban, on Thursday night, Lennon said the launch signalled the power utility’s commitment to renewable energy and its commitment to do “a lot more renewables in the future”.

He indicated that the commercial process for the project would come to an end in early 2012, and that this bidding process would be “fair, transparent and competitive”. Upon conclusion, the utility aims to start construction of the project “as soon as possible”.

“The launch today signals that we have now reached financial close on this project, which means we are ‘all systems go’,” Lennon said.

Investors in the project include the African Development Bank (AfDB), French development agency Agence Francaise Development (AFD), the European Investment Bank, the German-based development bank KfW and the World Bank, with the funding anchored through the Clean Technology Fund.

Eskom did not reveal the total funding requirements of the project, but as previously reported, $265-million has been secured from the AfDB, $100-million from the CTF, with $700-million received for the noncoal-related funding arising from Eskom’s $3.75-billion World Bank loan, and €100-million secured through a credit facility agreement between Eskom and the AFD in August.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said the wind project marked the transition, and a shift of attitude, to a new era for Eskom and the country in the renewables space.

He urged that the shift to renewable energy “must not be dramatic” in order to ensure optimal electricity generation, adding that all stakeholders must provide government with the patience and space to do its work.

“The shift to renewable energy must be purposeful and decisive.”

The Sere wind farm is being built on a 7 400 ha site near Vredendal in the Western Cape, a region with wind capacity estimated to be well over 10 000 MW.

Source engineering news

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