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Noupoort Wind Farm becomes first REIPPP window 3 wind farm to begin commercial operations

By Noupoort Wind Farm on 14 July 2016
The 80 MW Noupoort Wind Farm in South Africa's Northern Cape (Image credit: Noupoort Wind Farm)

Noupoort Wind Farm has achieved its Commercial Operations Date (COD) on schedule and on budget, making it the first wind farm to successfully achieve operation as part of the third round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). All 35 turbines of this ZAR1.9billion, 80MW wind farm, have been commissioned and connected to the Eskom grid, with the project satisfying all of Eskom’s requirements on 11 July 2016.  “We are thrilled to have reached this milestone on target and to have met all Eskom’s requirements including Grid Code Compliance, thereby achieving COD just 17 months after construction commenced,” said Savva Antoniadis, Country Programme Manager for Noupoort Wind Farm.

South Africa’s relatively new wind energy sector is already supplying enough electrical energy to power more than half a million households from 15 large wind farms generating over 3 GW of wind energy.  In addition to the enormous water savings, significant in the country’s current state of drought, REIPPPP ensures that renewable energy projects benefit nearby communities. So far in excess of ZAR90 billion has been committed to developmental initiatives under this programme. “We are currently implementing various economic development projects, which include Capacity Building for existing and prospective entrepreneurs; and local maths and science development programmes that incorporate science and computer labs as well as local Wi-Fi infrastructure,” explained Antoniadis.

The team at Noupoort Wind Farm has been working closely with the various Eskom teams to achieve this milestone, but value the positive community relationships equally as much.  “Our Project has received resounding support from the local municipality and the surrounding communities who supported us throughout the construction phase, for this we most grateful and look forward to a long and mutually beneficially relationship,” added Antoniadis.

Situated in the Umsobomvu Municipal Area located 10km east of Noupoort in the Northern Cape, Noupoort Wind Farm spans 7500 hectares and comprises thirty five 99m-high wind turbines. The site was chosen because of its excellent wind resource, its proximity to national roads for wind turbine transportation, the favourable construction conditions, municipality and local stakeholder support, the straightforward electrical connection into the Eskom grid, and studies showed that there would be little environmental impact.

When operating at full capacity, the 80MW Noupoort Wind Farm will generate around 304 800MWh of clean renewable energy per year; this is expected to supply electricity to power up to 69 000 South African homes. Noupoort Wind Farm will effectively eliminate approximately 300 000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year when compared to traditional fossil fuel power plants. In addition to zero carbon emissions and reduced use of fossil fuels, the country will benefit from minimal water consumption during the generation process and significant social and enterprise development programmes.  

Construction Milestones:

  • Construction of the wind turbine generator foundations started in May 2015
  • All 35 turbine foundations were completed 20 November 2015
  • First turbine lifting completed in December 2015
  • All 35 wind turbines erected by 30 March 2016
  • Energized the substation on 12 February 2016
  • Energised the first turbines on 23 February 2016
  • COD achieved on 11 July 2016
noupoort Image Credit: Noupoort Wind Farm
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