Half a year after breaking ground, the construction of the Coega Industrial Development Zone’s (IDZ) first wind turbine manufacturing facility is on schedule to be completed rapidly thanks to engineering techniques used to fast-track the process. The wind turbine factory is more than 60% complete and the task undertaken by lead construction firm NMC to build the 23,000 m² facility is nearing realisation, the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) says.

The project is joint initiative between the DCD Group, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the CDC. “The aim is to have the facility up-and-running in under 11 months after construction started in March, so that the DCD Group is able to supply its first two customers by February 2014,” Bruno Ponzo, CDC infrastructure project manager, says.

The facility is located in Zone 3 of the Coega IDZ and will be a first of its kind for the Eastern Cape. According to Frans Namuhuya of WorleyParsons – provider of professional services to the resources and energy sectors and complex process industries – the next few months will be tight as they review the timeline to gain ground on time lost due to the construction industry strike. “We have had to revise our schedule and increase the man hours and labour force to achieve our targets. We faced some challenges, but we also realised some noteworthy engineering feats that allowed us to fast track the project – such as the design, creation of shop drawings and manufacturing of steel that was cardinal to the successful delivery of the factory,” Namuhuya says.

“The galvanised steel lattice column design used also allowed for a quick construction time considering the high speed nature of the project.”

While work on site is moving at a rapid pace, the economic injection into the regional economy has also been escalating. So far, the materials used in the construction process amount to 236 tonnes of reinforcement, 1,896 tonnes of structural steel and 8,440 m3 of concrete. The project has also created 250 temporary jobs, with more than 90% of the workers coming from the Nelson Mandela Bay region.

In the past few months a number of wind farm components have arrived at the Port of Ngqura and made its way in a convoy of abnormal load vehicles to its destination of wind farms across the Eastern Cape. According to CDC business development manager in the energy sector, Sandisiwe Ncemane, the Coega IDZ, including the Port of Ngqura, is set to become the nexus through which renewable energy parts and sector logistics are coordinated and managed for the entire province.

At the launch of the project in May 2013, DCD energy sector marketing manager Henk Schoeman said the manufacturing facility is being established to support the localisation of wind tower manufacturing in South Africa, and that positioning the factory close to the wind farms is vitally important to reduce the transport costs. Once complete the DCD Wind Tower manufacturing facility will produce complete tubular steel towers, which entails the manufacture of the round steel tower sections from flat steel, welding flanges and assembling the inner parts of the towers. The wind turbine towers will vary in sizes ranging between 80 and 120 meters, with individual sections weighing between 40 to 60 tonnes.