The R1.2bn Grassridge wind farm is coming on stream

The path towards construction of the R1.2bn wind farm in Nelson Mandela Bay, in the Eastern Cape, was paved yesterday at a sod turning ceremony on site of the Grassridge Wind Energy Facility.

The wind farm which will host twenty 3MW wind turbines will have installed capacity of 61.5 MW. This capacity can deliver electricity equivalent to the annual consumption of approximately 40000 households (160,000 people).

Owners of the project say the development is the first phase of possible future wind farm expansions in its vicinity. The project forms part of a fleet of windfarms coming on stream around the Eastern Cape to beef up South Africa’s renewable energy base.

The Grassridge wind farm forms part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme. The program aims to deliver 3,725MW of energy produced from renewable energy sources.

This wind farm is constructed on land that hosts PPC’s Grassridge Quarry. The project is driven by InnoWind, a local wind energy developer owned by EDF Energies Nouvelles. PPC and InnoWind are said to be in discussions for a second phase, 24MW wind farm under a bilateral power purchase agreement. When commissioned, this farm will supply 10% of PPC’s electrical energy requirements in South Africa.

The wind farm is owned by Grassridge Wind Power, a project company which comprises of InnoWind, the Industrial Development Corporation and the Grassridge Winds of Change Community Trust (a local development trust representing the interests of the Motherwell community).

“We have come a long way in bringing this project to fruition, and are all very excited to reach this milestone that is the start the construction of InnoWind’s first wind farm in South Africa,” said Kevin Minkoff, Project Manager at InnoWind.

According to Egmont Ottermann, Group Energy Manager at PPC, the wind farm forms part of the cement company’s long-term rehabilitation plans for the mine. “PPC is committed to becoming a more sustainable company. This project is the first step in procuring power from renewable sources,” Ottermann said.

The Grassridge Wind Farm will contribute to the DoE’s 2011 determination to procure 3,725MW of energy to be produced from renewable energy sources. Wind energy, like solar energy, is an emission-free renewable energy source that will never run out.

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