First wind farm to go on grid

LEADING the race for clean energy, MetroWind's Van Stadens Wind Farm will be the first wind farm in the Eastern Cape to go on to the grid in February.

Basil Read Group chief executive Marius Heyns said the wind farm's nine turbines would generate a total output of 27MW of electricity that would be fed into the grid at the Fitches Corner substation to provide the Nelson Mandela Bay with its first supply of "green" electricity.

Heyns said the group took a decision three years ago to invest in renewable energy to "do our bit as a company" as well as generate income. They partnered with engineering company Afri-Coast, who had the initial idea to establish a wind farm for the city.

The total investment value in the wind farm is R550-million and construction started at the beginning of the year.

Bay mayor Ben Fihla yesterday commended the company for the "milestone achievement in their pioneering work in wind energy".

Addressing stakeholders, he said Eskom could not provide all the energy needs of the country and for this reason the government and the private sector would have to join forces and pursue alternative sources of energy to supplement existing capacity.

Basil Read Energy managing director Ian Curry said the wind farm would meet half of the municipality's target to generate 10% of the metro's electricity from renewable energy. "The wind farm will generate 80000MWh a year, which will equal supplying electricity to between 5000 and 6000 homes. We have created 120 jobs with the project and a total socioeconomic investment of R30-million will be made into the local communities of Fitches Corner, Shamrock and Witteklip."

The wind farm is one of four being constructed in the Eastern Cape.