Throw money to the wind

A UITENHAGE factory has installed its own wind turbine in a bid to cut its electricity costs by around 10%.

Automotive component manufacturer Venture SA yesterday celebrated the new 300kW wind turbine, which was erected over 10 days behind the factory in Alexander Industrial Park.

The fourth-generation turbine was manufactured by Venture's sister company, Adventure Power, in East London.

Venture Global Operations chief executive Mark Walker said a saving of between R70000 and R80000 in the factory's monthly electricity bill was expected and that the turbine would generate electricity to feed directly into the factory's grid.

"The cost of installing the turbine is R6-million and we should have paid back this investment cost in about five to six years. Our components will in future be made by the wind.

"We are planning on installing a further 20 turbines at our other factories across the country," Walker said.

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Ben Fihla said although the municipality would lose some electricity revenue, it was securing employment for the residents of the city by endorsing Venture's wind turbine.

"This investment decreases the challenge of unemployment in the metro and will make the city more attractive for other investors.

"It creates stability in the metro and will be beneficial for more development in the region," Fihla said.

Venture SA Uitenhage plant manager Fanie Calitz said the factory spent between 5% and 8% of its turnover on electricity costs and that the wind turbine would bring some relief to the massive cost of their electricity bill.

The plant manufactures cubby holes, bumpers and grids for all the major vehicle manufacturers in the Eastern Cape.

Some 20% of their components are non-automotive. These include rubbish bins, food pallets and shopping trolleys.

The company also manufactures piping for irrigation and does additional painting and chrome work for the various vehicle manufacturers.

Venture SA also has factories in East London, Durban and Gauteng.

Other companies in the group include Adventure Power, manufacturers of wind turbines in East London; Adventure Cleaning, which offers cleaning services for the group; and Adventure Air, which specialises in aeroplane upholstery.

The group employs 1650 people in South Africa and is part of the international Venture Group, which operates in the US, China, India and Australia.