Construction breaks ground on South Africa’s largest wind farm

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Construction has broken ground on what will be South Africa’s largest wind farm undertaken by Seriti Resources. The South African mining group is a top coal supplier to Eskom, the state power utility. The wind farm is an effort by the company to become self-reliant from the plagued power cuts the rest of the country currently faces.  According to Seriti, the wind farm will be able to supply 75% of the power required by its coal mines in Mpumalanga, South Africa’s coal heartland. The company also estimates that the new wind farm will create 800 jobs during its construction phase.

South Africa’s largest wind farm capacity

Seriti Resources signed a Power Purchase Agreement for the 155MW facility in February last year. It will be the first phase of 900MW of renewable energy projects that Seriti has planned. It will help ease rolling power cuts in one of the continents most advanced economies. In August 2022, Seriti launched its foray into renewable energy with the acquisition of Windlab Africa’s wind and solar energy assets. The country as a whole plans to transition to cleaner energy sources from the most polluting fossil fuels. It however, faces the additional challenge of cushioning the blow to communities dependent on coal mines for jobs.

Project cost

At a cost of US$234 million, Standard Bank and Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) have announced they will fund this initial wind project. Sereti will “leveraging its balance sheet” to start construction in December and order key equipment such as transformers, according to Seriti Green Chief Executive Officer Peter Venn. “There are short-term solutions to alleviate some stages of loadshedding, but the only long-term solution is new generation,” he added.

Giant wind turbines dot the landscape at the Darling Wind Power national demonstration project near Cape Town

Sasol’s Secunda Project

Last year in November, Sasol, a South African coal and fuel producer, together with Air Liquide announced they signed new power purchase agreements (PPA) with Mainstream Renewable Power, a global wind and solar company. This was the third set of PPAs signed by Sasol and Air Liquide. Additionally, it was the first of the decarbonization projects to have reached financial close.

Sasol and Air Liquide have signed close to 600MW for Secunda of which more than 200MW received grid access from Eskom over the 97.5MW announced by Mainstream Renewable Power. The solar power plant is scheduled to be operational in 2025.

“This is significant progress towards Sasol’s ambition to reduce its absolute scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% off a 2017 baseline. Sasol is committed to pursue the renewable procurement as a key lever for reducing GHG emissions, and we have made significant progress in procuring over 600 megawatts,” Sasol Energy Business executive vice-president Priscillah Mabelane said.

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