A crane lifts the massive rotor for a wind turbine into place. (Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm)
Cape Town – The Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm is under construction as the first of the giant turbines is being built.
The project announced that the first of 60 wind turbines that stand 80m tall is being constructed at the site.
“This is a pivotal point in the construction of this wind farm, which is set to supply enough clean, renewable electricity to power more than 110 000 South African homes each year,” said Mark Pickering, General Manager of Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.
The turbines will be constructed on the 3 700ha site with a view to going live in early 2014.
Two specialist cranes will take about three days to construct one turbine and lifting the three 49m blades into place.
As the cost of electricity continues to increase, there has been an accelerated interest in renewable energy solutions, and wind power in particular as it regarded as mature technology.
Wind energy is not without critics who have argued that the massive turbines, which can have a blade length of up to 150m, can kill birds.
A CSIR study found that wind farms in SA presented a low risk to birds, but urged continued monitoring.
“As far as collision mortality for birds is concerned, it is predicted that the project will have a negative impact of low significance (with mitigation). This will have to be verified by post-construction monitoring,” the study said.
Electricity production in SA peaks at around 36 000MW, but that includes the use of open cycle gas turbines, Eskom says.
At peak demand times, however, demand can spike to around 33 000MW, putting strain on the network.
Winter is particular difficult for the utility to provide electricity and the maintenance schedule impacts significantly on the capacity to produce power.
“Eskom continues to make progress with its programme of planned maintenance but the system remains tight,” Eskom said in its latest System Status Bulletin.
The Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm is one of a number of recent programmes to expand the generation of electricity under the South African Governmentâ€™s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.
“Not only will the project be able to provide a significant number of homes with clean, renewable energy by harnessing the wind, it will also save millions of litres of water that would otherwise have been consumed in the production of energy,” said Pickering.
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