darling wind farm powers up

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2008-05-26 20:28

SA's first renewable energy power initiative feeding into the national grid was officially powered up on Friday. The R75-million Darling Wind Farm consists of four turbines of 1.3 MW capacity generating a total of 5.2 MW of beautiful clean energy!

The idea for Darling Wind Power was conceived way back in 2000 and has been in the pipeline for a number of years now, so it's great to see this project come to fruition. Construction of the turbines started in 2006 and took two years to complete. The City of Cape Town has signed a long term power purchase agreement with the independant power producer (IPP), reportedly at a premium of 25% above the Eskom electricity price, which has made the project financially viable.

The opening was attended by Minerals and Energy Minister, Buyelwa Sonjica, not wanting to miss out on grabbing a renewable energy photo-opportunity in the wake of the Eskom power crisis, and Western Cape MEC for Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Tasneen Essop. Essop commented that this was a highly significant project for the province that will contribute to the provinces target of increasing generation of renewable energy to 15% by 2014.

Darling Wind Power CEO Hermann Oelsner stated there was no question that climate change was a reality and that South Africa would have to increasingly rely on the generation of renewable energy. He explained that South Africa had approximately 25 years left of easily extractable coal reserves, and that the supply of oil and gas would rapidly start to dwindle in the near future.

"The country has the potential to generate electricity from wind in excess of its current total national power consumption and without the harmful effects of fossil fuels and nuclear-powered generation plants," said Oelsner.

The project was developed by a consortium of private investors, including the Darling Independent Power Producer, state-owned Central Energy Fund, the Development Bank of South Africa, and the Government of Denmark which injected 15-million Danish krone (one third of the project funding) into the project.

Denmark ambassador, Dan Frederksen, said his country had placed a strong emphasis on renewable energy over the last decade and that wind energy contributed to 27% of Denmark's generation capacity.

Oelsner said that Germany, with its 18 000 wind turbines, generated a total of 22 000 MW.

What's next? Oelsner mentioned that on the back of this successful launch the construction of a larger 125 MW wind farm further up the West Coast was currently under investigation.

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