The path towards establishing the first wind tower to factory in South Africa was opened yesterday with international engineering and manufacturing group DCD turning soil at the Coega Industrial Development Zone site in Port Elizabeth.
The ceremony leads to the development of a R300 million manufacturing facility, which is budgeted to initially create roughly 800 jobs. The initiative was launched together with the Industrial Development Corporation and the Coega Development Corporation.
DCD managing director Rob King said “When government sets a local content threshold in a particular manufacturing sector high enough, it compels international companies to enter a dialogue with local manufacturers, which in turn creates local jobs and drives industrial development.”
Group subsidiary DCD Wind Towers is responsible for the factory and it will oversee the manufacture of tubular steel towers up to 120m high for the wind turbines.
Marketing manager for DCD’s energy offering Henk Schoeman says DCD is proud to spearhead the manufacture of wind towers in South Africa. “We successfully built the first wind tower prototype back in 2012 at our existing Vereeniging plant, giving impetus to our commitment to build a dedicated commercial wind tower factory.”
He said detailed research, planning and travel to facilities in Asia and Europe has gone into ensuring that the new plant is highly efficient, and designed to optimise international competitiveness in terms of capacity, quality and pricing.
Schoeman was optimistic that the DCD Wind Towers factory will be fully completed, with initial supply of towers expected to commence in February 2014 to its first two clients. “From then we will supply to various wind energy projects that have been successful in government’s on-going renewable energy IPP programme.” The facility is expected to produce between 110 and 120 wind towers per year.
Government has committed to generate 17 800 megawatts of renewable energy by 2030. “By then,” says King “8 400 megawatts will be generated by wind energy, in which we will be a major player.” Importantly for the Eastern Cape, the initial close to 200 operational jobs and over 600 construction jobs should grow in number as the facility grows.
King says of the future: “We are far from done in this field.” DCD intends to continue partnering with government to ensure that local manufacturers have the opportunity to participate in assembling turbines and manufacture other components.
DCD has already successfully manufactured the first local 50m rotor blades, using international design and technology.
DCD has been pivotal to infrastructure development in South Africa from 1946. It contributed to all 22 power stations between the 1960’s and 1990’s and today is participating in Kusile, Medupi and Ingula. The group is poised to partner further with government in actively developing localisation policy across a number of sectors relevant to its areas of operation.