EDF Renewables says their 34.5MW Wesley-Ciskei Wind Farm near Hamburg in the Eastern Cape has reached commercial operations and is now supplying electricity to the national grid.
Carl Wlotzka, EDF Renewables project manager, said: “After successfully completing the final Grid Code Compliance tests, we have now reached commercial operations and are supplying electricity into the grid.”
The wind project is part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) Bid Window 4.
The Wesley-Ciskei Wind Energy Facility is comprised of 10 turbines supplying 34.5MW AC. The technology employed on the wind farms includes some of the largest wind turbines installed in South Africa. The turbines feature a hub height of 117 metres and each blade is 63m long, making each turbine stand 180m tall.
“It was a big transportation challenge to navigate the South African road network with extremely heavy turbine components and blades that are up to 63m in length. These components were delivered to Wesley-Ciskei Wind Energy Farm and installed in two months,” explained Wlotzka.
Tristan De Drouas, EDF Renewables SA CEO, commented: “EDF Renewables has contributed significantly to South Africa’s renewable energy goals, having already completed four wind farms for the REIPPPP, including the Waainek, Chaba, Grassridge and Wesley-Ciskey projects. Now, in total, EDF Renewables is contributing 141.6MW of generation capacity to the grid.”
Effect of wind farm on local community being studied
Built throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was delayed when level 5 lockdown ceased all construction activities for eight weeks. “We also had to implement strict COVID-19 health and safety protocols upon re-opening the site, which concentrated on a range of measures to combat the spread of the pandemic. Fortunately, the project was not significantly delayed.
“Given the COVID-19 challenges, we are extremely happy to have completed construction of the project within 23 months,” said Wlotzka.
The project included an SMME developing and upskilling programme, facilitated by SAICA ED, which helped about 50 SMMEs in the communities surrounding the project site to work in the following areas: health and safety, communication, financing and tendering.
A bursary scheme also assisted two students in the local community to study at an institution of higher learning. During the lockdown, more than 400 food parcels were delivered to the community and local businesses manufactured face masks and hand sanitisers for the site.
The project is the subject of an academic study by the University of the Free state to assess the socio-economic impact that the Wesley-Ciskei project has on the local communities since it is the first renewable energy project under REIPPPP to be located in the former homeland area.
Phase one of the academic study developed a baseline for the area and phase two will measure the same indicators at the end of the construction phase in order to measure a comparative effect.