VANGUARD'S GTK ERECTING WTG ON GRASSRIDGE WIND FARM 2
Onshore wind farm developments have secured five out of 13 projects in round four of the REIPPPP. Pic credit: Vanguard

While South Africa grapples with constrained power supply and regular load shedding, Craig Pace, director at international heavy lift, abnormal transport and installations specialist Vanguard, shares his opinion of how a quiet revolution in renewable energy is taking place, often in remote and unnoticed parts of the country.

This revolution has already brought substantial benefits saving the economy billions of rands in diesel and coal that Eskom would have burnt to keep the lights on, said Pace. "A recent report from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) shows that the 1,600MW of renewable energy installed by December 2014 has saved the country over ZAR5 billion.”

Pace said that 32 renewable energy projects have already been completed and connected to the grid with government planning to more than double this figure by reaching 3,625MW by 2030.

“What is really encouraging about these developments is that they are producing electricity at a very competitive cost - so that the net financial benefits of renewables will remain positive even in future when the national grid is less constrained.”

The Integrated Energy Research Centre at CSIR reported that the cost per kilowatt/hour (kWh) of renewable energy for new projects is now well below ZAR1 for solar photovoltaic (PV) production and between ZAR0.60 – ZAR0.80 for wind projects.

REIPPPP bid windows

“The government’s three Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) bid windows have procured more than 60 renewables projects, with combined capacity of 3,900MW."

Pace continued: “Another 77 bids were received in the fourth REIPPPP window last year, indicating the enthusiasm and investment appetite of many foreign companies.”

The private investment associated with the projects procured to date amounts to ZAR140 billion.

Project involvement

The Johannesburg-based company has been integrally involved with a number of wind farms around South Africa in recent years, according to Pace.

These include:

  • West Coast One wind farm with the installation of 20 Vestas V90 2.0MW turbine generators
  • The Chaba wind farm near Komga in the Eastern Cape, where the company discharged seven Vestas V112-3.0MW wind turbine generators from the vessel, off-loaded into a storage area, and reloaded for transport to the wind farm
  • Grassridge wind farm, also near Port Elizabeth
  • The Noblesfontein wind farm in the Northern Cape
  • Metrowind’s Van Stadens wind farm in the Eastern Cape