80 MW Noupoort wind farm enters commercial operation

The 80 MW Noupoort wind farm, in the Northern Cape, entered commercial operation on July 11, with all 35 turbines at the R1.9-billion facility commissioned and connected to the Eskom grid.

Country programme manager Savva Antoniadis reports that Noupoort is also the first wind farm selected during the third bid window of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) to have reached the milestone, following 17 months of construction.

80 MW Noupoort wind farm enters commercial operation

Preferred bidders for the third bid window were named in late 2013 and the projects reached financial close in December 2014, with construction of the Noupoort project having started in May 2015.

Situated in the Umsobomvu municipal area, the wind farm has been developed by a consortium that includes Lekela Power (a 60:40 joint venture between Actis and Mainstream Renewable Power), the Noupoort Renewable Energy Trust, Thebe Investment Corporation, Old Mutual’s IDEAS Managed Fund, Futuregrowth Asset Management and Genesis Eco-Energy in partnership with Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital.

The 99-m-high turbines are spread across a 7 500 ha site and, once at full capacity, the wind farm is expected to produce 304 800 MWh a year.

The project brings to 15 the number of large wind farms currently in operation across South Africa, with most of the other plants situated in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape provinces.

To date, 6 377 MW of renewable energy capacity has been procured under the REIPPPP, with bids for a further 1 800 MW currently under evaluation under the so-called expedited bid window. The identities of the next round of preferred bidders should be made known within weeks.