Construction of the Grassridge Wind Energy Facility in Nelson Mandela Bay officially begins today, with project representatives from the Department of Energy (DoE), InnoWind (Pty) Ltd, PPC Ltd and community representatives from Motherwell turning the first soil of the R 1.2 billion wind farm.
The Grassridge wind farm forms part of the DoE’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme and is being established at PPC‘s Grassridge Quarry on Addo Road. It is one of the first renewable energy projects developed on an operating quarry in South Africa.
InnoWind, a local wind energy developer owned by EDF Energies Nouvelles has developed the project. The wind farm is owned by Grassridge Wind Power, a project company which comprises of InnoWind, the Industrial Development Corporation and the Grassridge Winds of Change Community Trust (a local development trust representing the interests of the Motherwell community).
This facility will consist of 20 Vestas V-112 3MW 84 metre high wind turbines, with an installed capacity of 61.5 MW, delivering electricity equivalent to the annual consumption of approximately 40,000 households (160,000 people). The development is the first phase of possible future wind farm expansions in its vicinity.
“We have come a long way in bringing this project to fruition, and are all very excited to reach this milestone that is the start the construction of InnoWind’s first wind farm in South Africa,” said Kevin Minkoff, Project Manager at InnoWind.
According to Egmont Ottermann, Group Energy Manager at PPC Ltd, the wind farm forms part of the cement company’s long-term rehabilitation plans for the mine. “PPC is committed to becoming a more sustainable company. This project is the first step in procuring power from renewable sources,” Ottermann said.
The Grassridge Wind Farm will contribute to the DoE’s 2011 determination to procure 3,725MW of energy to be produced from renewable energy sources. Wind energy, like solar energy, is an emission-free renewable energy source that will never run out.
PPC and InnoWind are in discussions for a second phase, 24MW wind farm under a bilateral power purchase agreement. When commissioned, this farm will supply 10% of PPC’s electrical energy requirements in South Africa.
Winds of change to blow for Motherwell
Today’s sod-turning of the Grassridge Wind Energy Facility on Addo Road, Port Elizabeth not only heralds the start of greener energy in the Bay but also significant upliftment opportunities for the nearby Motherwell community.
In addition to the non-skilled and semi-skilled job opportunities arising during the 20-month construction phase of the Grassridge project, over a quarter of all dividends generated from the sale of wind energy to Eskom will be ploughed back into the community. The facility is expected to employ approximately 95 employees per month during the 20 month construction period.
The Grassridge Winds of Change Community Trust – which represents the interests of the Motherwell community in the project – is one of three investors in the Grassridge Wind Power project company, and as such will ultimately receive up to 26% of all dividends generated from the sale of wind energy. The other two investors are wind farm developer InnoWind, a local renewable energy firm owned by EDF Energies Nouvelles, which has a 60% share in the project, and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), with a 14% share.
Community representatives from Motherwell – together with project representatives from InnoWind and the Department of Energy (DoE) – turned the first sods of the wind farm today, marking the start of construction. The wind farm will be completed in early 2015 – and will operate for at least 20 years (until 2035).
Money channelled into the community trust will be administered by the board of trustees to fund community-boosting projects in the areas of education, sports, enterprise development and skills development for the duration of the project’s contract life. The implementation of these projects will likely be carried-out by BBBEE-owned small enterprises, non-profit organisations (NPOs) and churches – with the entire process carefully monitored by the board of trustees through accountants and implementing agents.
“We look forward to contributing to the development of South Africa’s wind energy industry, while at the same time responding to local needs. It is an honour to be partnering with the IDC and the local community on this exciting project,” said InnoWind project manager Kevin Minkoff.
“We believe in long-term sustainability, not only in terms of our commitment to providing cleaner energy, but also in building communities through long-term and sustainable upliftment projects, thanks to the operating longevity of the wind farm, 20 years or more, which makes a real difference.”
The R1.2 billion wind farm is one of three awarded to InnoWind through the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme to boost and diversify Eskom’s supply – making InnoWind the most prolific bidder in the Eastern Cape to date. Its other two projects are near Grahamstown and East London respectively.
Thus far, 10 wind farm projects have been awarded in the province – two thirds of the 15 awarded nationally.
Construction will take 20 months. The first phase – from October 2013 to July 2014 – will include the building of roads, foundations and a new on-site substation, which will link to the existing Grassridge substation at the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ). The turbines – which will include the towers, nacelles (which house the generating components), hubs and blades – will be erected between July and November 2014.
InnoWind has commissioned leading Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas for the supply, installation and commissioning of the 20 turbines, which will contain a significant amount of locally-manufactured sub-components.
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