Wind power electrifies South African World Cup

Belgium wind farm developer Electrawinds announced that it has won the race to connect its first South African wind turbine to the grid ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony and has begun providing wind energy free of charge to the Nelson Mandela Bay Football Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

The single 1.8MW Vestas V90 wind turbine has been under construction since May and will form part of a 45MW wind farm featuring 25 wind turbines that is expected to become South Africa’s first commercial-scale wind farm.

Completion of the wind farm is expected in 2011. That the Beautiful Game — as football, or soccer, is often called — will be helped out by emissions-free wind power is, frankly speaking, something to celebrate.

The wind power marks first commercial wind farm project in South Africa as well as the start of the first phase of a large wind farm that, in time, will comprise 25 wind turbines.

The wind turbine has a capacity of 1.8 megawatts which translates into an annual yield of 5,700,000 kWh and equals the annual electricity consumption for 1,700 families (based on an average annual consumption of 3,500 kWh).

“In Belgium, Electrawinds is one of the pioneers of renewable energy and has, in the meantime, built up great know-how. It is now our ambition to fulfill that pioneering role in South Africa as well. There is great support there for renewable energy and this offers good prospects,” says Luc Desender, managing director of Electrawinds.

The wind turbine has been built in the Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) in Coega, a new harbour area at the Indian Ocean. It is a VESTAS V90 with a 95-meter tower and a 90-meter rotor diameter.

The green electricity produced during the world championship will be donated by ELECTRAWINDS through special agreement to the Nelson Mandela Bay football stadium in Port Elizabeth which is hooked up to the same electricity network as the wind turbine. This stadium is hosting, among other games, the quarter finals of the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup as well as the play offs for third and fourth place.

Marleen Vanhecke, PR & Communication manager, says: “If there were a wind turbine construction world championship, Belgium would undoubtedly be the world champions! From signing the contract with the Danish turbine constructor Vestas to the production of the first green energy, the entire project took barely 3 months. Such a project could normally take up to eighteen months. However, this job had to be done quickly."

Marleen Vanhecke continues: “Electrawinds has worked out an alternative in partnership with the city of Port Elizabeth, which owns the stadium. We’ll be keeping a note of how much electricity the turbine produces during the World Cup. This might be about 475.000 kWh. This amount will be deducted later from the stadium’s electricity bill. This is a modest contribution, but it has nevertheless generated a lot of press interest locally. For example, the South African energy minister visited the site early in May.”