Eskom wind farm takes shape in South Africa

The parts for the 46 wind turbines making up this R2.7-billion project include 53m blades, 29m-high tower sections and 11.4m-long nacelles – cover housings containing all the generating components including the generator, gearbox, drive train, and brake assembly – weighing just over 80 tons each.

Eskom said in response to questions by the Cape Argus this week that it expected work on the first turbine to be complete by “early” next year, with the first electricity expected by the middle of the year.

“It is anticipated that it will take about nine months from completion of the first turbine until final commissioning of the project,” Eskom’s media department said. “At this point we fully expect to achieve the ‘end of 2014’ date mentioned by (chief executive Brian) Dames.”

Dames made his forecast in May after the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) granted a licence for the wind farm, opening the way for construction to start on what will be one of the largest wind farms in southern Africa.

The power utility says it will generate up to 100MW of power for the national grid and will avoid nearly 4.7 million tons of carbon emissions over 20 years. The wind farm will be made up of 46 Siemens 2.3-108 wind turbine generators.

The project includes a new substation and a 132KV distribution line, and has an expected operating life of 20 years. Its average annual energy production of about 233 000MWh (megawatt hours) will be enough to power about 97 000 standard homes.
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“This is an exciting milestone in Eskom’s move towards a cleaner energy mix,” Dames said at the time.

“Sere is our first, large-scale, renewable energy project. It demonstrates our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and to investing in a sustainable energy future.”

“Sere” means “cool breeze” in the Nama language, and the wind farm is being constructed on a 36.7ha site on two farms, Nedersetting and Gravewaterkop, two kilometres inland and north of the mouth of the Olifants River near Koekenaap. Eskom said the site was ready. The 138 blades and 46 towers were being manufactured in China, while the nacelles were being built in Denmark.

“Some turbine components have already arrived in Saldanha Harbour. The rest will follow in accordance with the manufacture and shipment schedule.”

The turbine towers are 107.5m high, and when the blades are fitted the total height will be about 134m.

The five tower sections range in length from 13.12m to 29m and weigh between 42.5 and 74.6 tons. – Cape Argus.