9 May 2013 – South African energy sector policy requires round two wind energy projects under the auspices of South Africa’s renewable independent power producer programme (REIPPP) to have at least 35% local content (increasing to 40% from round three). As a result heavy engineering group DCD has begun construction of a R300 million wind energy structure factory at the Coega industrial development zone (IDZ) near Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape.
The wind tower manufacturing facility is a joint initiative between DCD, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Coega Development Corporation, which manages the Coega IDZ. DCD energy sector marketing manager Henk Schoeman says, “The facility is expected to create close to 200 jobs, and produce between 110 and 120 wind towers per year."
DCD has entered into an agreement with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Vestas. The DCD wind towers team says it is benchmarking its facility on a number of similar facilities visited in Europe and Asia and, with the help of its technology partner, has designed the layout of a factory that is internationally competitive in terms of production, quality and pricing. DCD began work on a single tower for a wind turbine at its Vereeniging manufacturing facility, where the company manufactured four sections and the flanges in-house. Having successfully completed this prototype in 2012, the company concluded that it had the necessary expertise to become a leader in the industry.
Schoeman says that the DCD Wind Towers factory will be fully completed, with initial supply of towers expected to commence in February 2014 to its first two clients. "Once fully operational, the manufacturing facility will focus solely on producing complete tubular steel towers, which entails manufacturing the round steel tower sections from flat steel, welding flanges to these and assembling the inner parts of the towers. The wind turbine towers will vary in sizes ranging between 80 and 120 metres, with individual sections weighing between 40 to 60 tonnes. Positioning the factory close to the wind farms is vitally important to reduce the transport costs."
DCD managing director Rob King says that the establishment of the wind towers business is an expansion on DCD’s core power generation capabilities. "Power generation is a major focus point for the DCD group, which manufactured components to all 22 of South Africa’s power stations between the 1960s and the 1990s. DCD is also currently involved at Medupi, Kusile and Ngula power stations, and places a strong emphasis on being a player in coal, nuclear and renewable energy in South Africa."