Coega IDZ - The Eastern Cape's Wind Energy Gateway
The Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) which houses the deepwater port of Ngqura and the Coega Development Corporation just north of the city of Port Elizabeth has become a hotbed of activity lately as a number of wind farms in the Eastern Cape reach the stage where the erection of the wind turbines is starting to take place.
Ngqura is one of two ports in South Africa that is suitable for receiving wind turbine components due to their large size. The other is the Port of Saldanha on the west coast which is currently servicing wind farm development in the Western and Northern Cape.
Wind farms in the Eastern Cape which are currently transporting components sourced from India, China and Germany include Metrowind van Stadens just south of Port Elizabeth, Mainstream's Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, African Clean Energy Developments/Suzlon's wind farm near Cookhouse and the Dorper Wind Farm near Molteno. Red Cap's Kouga Wind Farm near Oyster Bay will begin transporting components in early 2014.
All of these wind farm projects are part of the first bidding window of the Department of Energyâs (DoE) much acclaimed Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP). Window two wind projects are currently in the initial phases of construction which are to do with civil engineering, service roads and other balance of plant infrastructure. The deadline for submissions for renewable energy projects for window three of the REIPPP has just closed with 93 bids submitted by independent power producers. As with the previous two windows, bids will be assessed against a number of socio-economic and developmental criteria.
As South Africa attempts to capitalise on employment opportunities afforded by the green economy, the renewables sector is seen as a key driver towards achieving its green growth aspirations. As such, localisation is a non-negotiable in the country's renewable energy rollout, with increasingly stringent local content levels being required by the South African government and the Coega IDZ is well placed in this regard. Earlier in May this year, a newly-established local subsidiary of an international manufacturing and engineering company, DCD, officially started construction work on its R300-million tower factory at the Coega IDZ with a view to supplying towers for future phases of the country's wind energy rollout. Whilst the local market does not yet warrant a full scale wind turbine blade manufacturing facility, it is hoped that further determinations for wind energy from the DoE will send the right signals for manufacturers to invest locally.
The wind turbine components arriving in Ngqura consist of tower sections, nacelles (which house the generating components), hubs and blades. The turbines for this batch of projects have a capacity of between 2.1 MW and 3 MW. A single tower section of some of the bigger models can weigh up to 100 tonnes with blades of 55 metres in length.
The current basket of renewable energy investors at the Coega IDZ includes Electrawinds, Universal Wind, Innowind, EAB Astrum and PhytoEnergy and the zone is uniquely geared to offer solutions for investing in renewable energy, particularly in the wind, photovoltaic and bioenergy sectors. There is little doubt that the Coega IDZ will play an increasingly important role in the countryâs transition to a more sustainable energy future for some time to come.
Wind farm logistics - pictures of the deepwater port of Ngqura's lay-down facility and turbine component transport
(Photo credits: Coega Development Corporation)