More wind power for South Africa

Wind Energy

More wind power for South Africa

Wind power and renewable energy in South Africa is gathering momentum, with the announcement of a new 300MW wind farm under development near the agricultural region of Caledon in the southern Western Cape province.

According to engineering consulting company Arcus Gibb Africa, the project is known as Caledon Wind and is using the expertise and experience of Swiss-based wind power development company Genesys Wind, the project manager.

Reports also mention the involvement of South African engineering firm Thuthuka Group, as well as other local construction and cabling companies.

Arcus Gibb is undertaking the environmental impact assessment, and has already published a number of related documents on its website.

The firm is calling for the participation of interested and/or affected parties. To date organisations such as the Cape Bird Club, the Western Cape Birding Forum, and BirdLife South Africa have registered as such. Public meetings began in January 2010.

An environmental impact assessment takes place in four stages, from application, through to the scoping phase, then specialised assessment of the data gathered in the scoping phase, and finally, approval. A number of specialist studies were carried out, with regard to factors such as possible noise, aesthetic and geological implications, and the impact wind power will have on flora, fauna, birds, agriculture, society, heritage and transportation.

The draft scoping report was published in December 2009, and is now available for comment.

Large-scale development

The massive wind power energy generation project will spread over an area of some 3 700ha, spanning 15 privately owned farms in the Theewaterskloof municipality near Caledon.

According to Genesys, the land has already been secured and the company has been conducting wind measurements since February 2009.

Up to 150 wind power turbines, each capable of generating a maximum of 3.6MW of power, will soon dot the countryside. The immense structures stand 80m high from ground to hub, that is the central section where the blades come together, and each massive blade measures 40m in length.

The project is to take shape in 50MW increments, with the first stage starting in 2010. This phase is expected to take 12 months and the balance a further 36 months. Once complete, the wind farm will have a lifespan of around 20 years.

A number of associated infrastructure projects are also on the cards. These include foundations for the turbines, underground cables linking turbines to each other and to the national grid, and a road network. One of the advantages of the site is that the entry point to the national grid is a mere 5km away.

Arcus Gibb has stated that the project will be registered with the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change under the Clean Development Mechanism. This is one of a number of Kyoto Protocol tools that allow developed countries to reach their emission reduction targets through alternative means.

If approved, this means that developed countries can invest in the wind farm as part of their carbon reduction strategy, trading and selling carbon credits earned through reducing emissions via the South African project.

More wind power and renewable energy for south africa

With its abundant natural resources of sun, wind and water, South Africa is regarded as a prime candidate for increased use of renewable energy. The country is highly dependent on coal burning for power generation, but does have a number of hydroelectric plants, although only one nuclear power station.

Whatever the form of electricity generation, there are inherent advantages and disadvantages. In the case of wind farms, electricity may be generated by day or night as long as there is wind, and the process does not pollute the air at all.

Rural areas, where most wind farms are built, also benefit from job creation, while existing agriculture is minimally affected. Once the turbines are in place, the land can still be used for farming. However, the turbines do present a danger to birds and other flying creatures, and may also impede the path of light aircraft.

But in the long run the local production of power will save consumers money by reducing electricity delivery costs and cutting down on the loss that occurs when electricity is run through power lines over long distances.

Article Source : Media Club South Africa

A powerplant in your home

A home in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality is the subject of a pilot project that could lead to South African households producing their own electricity – and selling the surplus to national electricity provider Eskom.

The system has been running since the end of July 2008 and, says the municipality, it will assess results after another six months to decide on a bigger roll-out strategy.

The municipality intends to become South Africa’s first centre of so-called embedded power generation, where houses can produce their own electricity using renewable resources such as sun and wind. Embedded generation is the term used to describe any electricity generating plant that is connected to regional or national electricity distribution networks.

Renewable energy plants, because they do not have to be as large as a power station, are ideally suited to small-scale installations such as households, and therefore are well placed to being embedded in bigger electricity grids, allowing the household to exchange electricity with the grid.

A home running on renewable energy

South Africa’s pilot plant involves a typical home in Port Elizabeth fitted with a one-kilowatt (kW) solar panel package, a 1kW wind turbine mounted on a 12-metre mast, and a battery backup.

The battery bank is used to store energy from both the renewable sources and the grid during off-peak periods, and with the Sunny-Backup charger and inverter, power can be generated from the batteries during peak periods, at night, or when the grid is down. Electricity produced by the renewable components is converted to the inverter to 220V so that it can be used in the home.

The excess energy produced is fed into the grid using a special feed-in meter and sold to Eskom at an established feed-in tariff. The entire system is known as a hybrid, because it includes at least two sources of renewable energy – this is to negate any breaks in supply from the natural sources.

The package also includes all equipment needed to monitor and control the electricity-producing devices, so that the municipality is well able to determine the practical and economic implications of the installation, with a view to expanding the project.

If successful, the municipality hopes that the project will lead to a speedy amendment of national laws and regulations, which currently do not provide for decentralized (where energy production comes from various locations instead of only one large plant) production of energy or feeding into the grid. This will allow people to set up their own sources of renewable energy and connect them to the public utility Eskom, selling their excess power at a renewable or green feed-in tariff.

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality says that if tariffs are beneficially structured so that to sell electricity costs more than to buy, over a period of time the income raised will cover the initial costs of the system. This break-even period will vary according to the tariff; the amount of energy generated annually, the type of systems, and the initial cost.

Leading the way in renewable energy

South African has experienced critical shortages in electricity supply over the last year, with blackouts and load-shedding across the country as Eskom struggling to meet the demand. The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality has embarked on a major drive to investigate the feasibility of renewable energy not only to help households reduce their dependence on the national grid and alleviate the impact of load-shedding, but also in the interests of the environment and to probe alternatives to fossil fuels.

The municipality is in the process of implementing a number of innovative green projects, among them wind turbines, solar heating, electricity generation from solid waste, the waste exchange project aimed at increasing the reuse of waste, and a large scale wind farm. In total, says the municipality, successful bidders submitted tenders amounting to R9-billion ($1.1-billion).

Executive Mayor Nondumiso Maphazi said the green initiatives indicate the municipality’s determination to become a leader in the provision of renewable energy sources.

“These initiatives will set a standard for all the other local authorities to follow. We are well on our way to providing sustainable energy resources, and the main beneficiaries will be our shareholders, the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay,” she added.

Renewable energy strategy

The South African government has launched an extensive renewable energy strategy following the 2003 publication of its white paper, which has set a target of at least 10 000GWh of energy to be produced from renewable energy sources – mainly biomass, wind, solar and small-scale hydro – by 2013.

According to the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME), attainment of this target will add about 1.667MW of new renewable energy capacity – this could augment GDP to the tune of as much as R1.07-billion ($130-million) a year.

The scheme for national implementation will also bring in governmental revenue of almost R300-million ($37-million), resulting in additional income that will spill over to low-income households, in addition to the estimated 20 000 new jobs. The DME also expects water savings of 16.5-million kiloliters, or R26.6-million ($3.3-million).

Article Source : Media Club South Africa

A powerplant in your home

electricity meter grid tie