Powerful message provided by farms

ANOTHER Eastern Cape wind farm has started supplying green electricity to the national grid. Ten of the 60 Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm turbines have started supplying power to Eskom, while all nine of the MetroWind Van Stadens Wind Farm turbines are online.

The Cookhouse Wind Farm, which has 66 turbines, is set to come online at the end of May.

The smaller-scale Nelson Mandela Bay 27 mW wind farm, MetroWind Van Stadens, is ahead of the pack in the region and has been supplying green power to the Nelson Mandela Bay grid since late November.

Project manager John McGillivray said all nine turbines were now online and had fed approximately 4.8 million kW of electricity into the grid to date. MetroWind was making history this week as the first renewable energy independent power (REIP) producer in the province being tested for grid code compliance.

"Representatives from the National Energy Regulator (Nersa), Eskom and the municipality are running tests on the wind farm to ensure the protection, settings and capabilities are in place for Eskom and the municipality to adjust the power production of the wind farm remotely," McGillivray said.

"We will start operating commercially from Saturday if all goes well with the testing and we get the relevant approvals from Nersa and Eskom," McGillivray said.

Reaching commercial operation for the wind farm as a whole is the final sign-off of the project, which started on the farm outside Blue Horizon Bay in late 2012 and formed a part of the first round of the REIP programme. The wind farm will supply enough power for about 6000 homes in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipal area.

In the meantime, the 138 mW Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm's general manager, Mark Pickering, said more than 65% of the 60 wind turbines had been erected, with 10 turbines already supplying to the grid.

"Our project substation has been energised, which means that we are now connected to the Eskom grid. This marks the first step towards supplying enough clean, renewable electricity to power more than 114000 South African homes and avoid over 420000 tons of carbon emissions each year," Pickering said.

The final turbine foundation base was completed during the first week of December.

More specific information on construction progress at the 66-turbine Cookhouse Wind Farm could not be obtained at the time of going to print, but it is set to meet its target of going onto the grid at the end of May. The 66 turbines will have a total generating capacity of 138.6mW, which is equal to powering 59400 middle-income homes or 145200 low-income homes.