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The Sere Wind Farm from Eskom, the South African electricity public utility, recently achieved its full commercial operational capacity of a 100 MW . The achievement of this milestone in the Western Cape of South Africa is in line with the commitments made by Eskom in terms of both time and cost. The African Development Bank approved in 2011 a USD 45 million loan with USD 50 million contribution from the Clean Technology Fund, one of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) for this first utility scale renewable energy project. The World Bank and the French Development Agency also contributed to the financing of the project.
Brian Molefe, Eskom’s Acting Chief Executive, said, “Sere is Eskom’s first large-scale renewable energy project, and forms part of our commitment to renewable energy and reducing our carbon footprint. The Sere plant adds 100 MW to the national power grid and contributes to saving nearly 6 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions over its 20 years’ expected operating life, with average annual energy production of about 298,000 MWh, enough to supply about 124,000 standard homes.”
All 46 wind turbines have been erected and energised, and the construction of the new Skaapvlei substation and a 44-kilometre 132kV distribution line has been completed. The first wind turbine at the farm was erected in December 2013. The project took the first step towards the goal of synchronising the wind turbines to the grid when the first string of 7 turbines were energised in October 2014. Although Sere had been completely energised and feeding power to the grid since December 30, 2014, the first quarter of 2015 was used to ensure that the milestone of commercial operation is achieved.
Alex Rugamba, Director of the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department at the AfDB, underlined that “The project is one of the largest wind energy projects in South Africa. This wind energy facility is comparable to any in the world with regard to cost, time, and quality. It illustrates AfDB’s commitment in supporting Africa’s transition to green growth and to address the challenges of climate change.”
The wind farm is not the only green energy initiative at Eskom, which is also developing a 100 MW concentrating solar plant (CSP) project near Upington in the Northern Cape, a project that will save about 450,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its lifetime. The AfDB is also financing the project with the Clean Technology Fund. The financing is part of loan agreements of USD 365 million signed in 2011 (USD 265 million from AfDB’s own resources and USD 100 million from the Clean Technology Fund ) to finance Eskom wind and solar utilities.