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Wind energy: The West Coast One wind farm will support the country’s ailing power grid by contributing an additional 94MW of clean power

On Tuesday, Aurora Wind Power, a venture of French multinational electric utility company ENGIE (formerly GDF SUEZ, France), Investec Bank Limited (RSA) and KTH (RSA) announced that it has started commercial operation on the West Coast One, 94MW wind power project in the Western Cape Province, South Africa.

The power consortium was awarded the project in May 2012 under round two of the South African Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) where construction started in mid-2013.

Gérard Mestrallet, Chairman and CEO of ENGIE said in a statement: “The West Coast One wind farm supports South Africa’s objective of increasing renewable generation and promoting local economic development.”

Additional power generation

The generated clean power will be purchased by South African state-owned power utility Eskom under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) that was signed in May 2013.

The additional power comes at a pivotal time for the country’s ailing power grid which is consistently being placed under pressure due to increased demand, depleting base-load fuel resources and unplanned maintenance.

The wind farm has installed 47 turbines each with a generation capacity of 2MW.

Financial investment

According to ENGIE, the total investment in the wind farm is $180 million (ZAR2 billion) which has been raised through a mix of equity and debt, provided by local banks.

The French company claims that West Coast One will offset an estimated 5.6 million tonnes of CO2 over the 20-year duration of its PPA with Eskom.

ENGIE holds 43% equity stake in the West Coast One project, Investec owns 34.5%, Kagiso Tiso Holdings has 20% interest while the remaining 2.5% will be allocated to a Community Trust, with the purpose of developing and sustaining the surrounding community, ENGIE said in a statement.