Wind farm revolution blows east

A wind farm revolution gusting through the province has reached the hills above the Kei River with switch-on of the R400-million Chaba wind energy farm expected at the end of July.

Seven 85m-high, three-bladed Vestas V112 turbines are up and being tested, said Martin Webb, CEO of InnoWind.

Webb said they were still “commission-testing turbine by turbine”.

When commissioned, it is calculated that Chaba’s turbines will produce 21 megawatts, enough to power up Great Kei municipality and its 11300 rural homes and farms.

Six of the turbines are dotted along a ridge on the seaward side of the N2 and one on the west side close to the N2-Komga turn-off.

Four turbines were turning yesterday. Their 56m-long blades revolved every six seconds in yesterday’s 20-30km/h north wind, meaning that the four turbines turned, in total, 2400 times an hour.

Webb said each turbine could produce three megawatts.

A major Eskom power line runs through the site.

Cattle grazing among the turbines were kept in their camps by well-worn cattle fences and gates.

Webb said they built close to a Eskom sub-station to make it easy to plug into the grid.

Consumers will pay the same rate to the power supplier.

A map produced by the independent news site Energy Blog, which tracks “South Africa’s sustainable energy revolution”, shows that:

  • Fifteen wind farm projects are on the go at different stages in the Eastern Cape;
  • Six are fully operational in Oyster Bay, Jeffreys Bay, Van Staden’s River, Grassridge, Cookhouse and Sterkstroom/ Molteno.

Their total generating capacity is 537 megawatts.

  • Six are under construction at Tsitsikamma, Oyster Bay, Grahamstown, Cookhouse (two farms), and Chaba and;
  • Plans are approved and finance has either been obtained or is being sought for farms at Gibson Bay, Oyster Bay and Cookhouse.
  • Webb said the plant was the first one to go up on the eastern side of the Kei, but a number of other projects had been approved by other communities across the Kei River.

    These projects had been placed before government.

    Sixolile Makaula, spokesman for the department of economic development, economic affairs and tourism (Dedeat), said: “Dedeat has been working with the Great Kei municipality around the development of local suppliers in order to assist them in engaging with wind and solar farms.

    “In November last year, Dedeat held a workshop with SMMEs in the municipal area to assist them to understand the kinds of services they can provide to wind and solar farms, and the kinds of state enterprise development support opportunities that they can harness.”

    He said Dedeat was providing “ongoing business development support to three qualifying SMMEs”.

    Webb said Chaba was one of three projects representing an investment of R2-billion.

    The first is an operating 20-tower farm at Grassridge outside Port Elizabeth, and a third, eight turbines at Waainek, Grahamstown, is set down for completion in January. —


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