South African wind energy farm lights up over 120,000 homes while saving carbon emissions: AfDB/CIF-funded
Project snapshot - Sere Wind Farm
Country: South Africa
Sector: Renewable energy
AfDB and related financing: USD 95 million (USD 45 million from AfDB, USD 50 million from the Climate Investment Funds), part of a larger USD 365 million AfDB/Clean Technology Fund loan agreement signed in 2011
- construction of 46 wind turbines, Skaapvlei substation and 44 km 132kV distribution line
- additional supply of 100 MW to the national power grid
- reduction in almost 6 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions over its 20 year expected operating life
- average annual energy production of about 298,000 MWh, enough to supply power to electrify about 124,000 standard homes
Situation: In recent years, the South African electricity sector, once operationally efficient, ran into major capacity constraints. As a result, power rationing and other measures instituted to prevent the electricity system from collapsing affected the entire economy, especially the country's mining industry, leading to shutdowns of some of the largest mining operations, putting thousands of jobs at risk. In addition, climate change is affecting South African life, especially the poor population, and the country is a major emitter of greenhouse gases, generating its electricity largely from coal. As the world’s eighth largest emitter per capita of greenhouse gases (GHGs), the emission rate is at almost ten tonnes of carbon dioxide per person per year – 43% more than the global average.
In response, South Africa has made a bold voluntary commitment to combat climate change. It aims at reducing GHG emissions by 34% by 2020 and 42% by 2025. To support these goals, Eskom, South Africa’s public electricity utility, committed USD 50 billion in investments over a five-year period to increase the then-current electricity capacity by 12.5 percent while aligning with the country’s commitment to transition into a low carbon economy. Given the climatic conditions in the country, potential wind power was estimated at 80 terawatt-hours (TWh) and was therefore considered a viable solution for renewable power generation.
Objective: Since 2011, AfDB and the World Bank in partnership with the Climate Investment Funds, the French Agency for Development and Eskom, have worked to sustainably increase the country’s energy supply to improve access to electricity, economic growth and the living conditions through the construction of the Sere Wind Farm.
Project’s current status:
According to Eskom, by April 2015 the farm had achieved its full commercial operational capacity of 100 MW, in line with the commitments by Eskom in terms of both time and cost. Since the energising of the first wind turbine in October 2014, Sere has contributed over 160 gigawatt hours of energy to the national power grid.
Project’s specificity: One of the largest wind energy projects in South Africa and the first of its kind for Eskom, it is comparable to any in the world in terms of cost, time and quality. In addition, the project is promoting regional integration as it is expected to facilitate the replication of such technology elsewhere in the region, most notably in Botswana and Namibia.
Lessons learnt: Effective project planning and development is critical for ensuring timely project completion and within budget.
“Sere is Eskom's first large-scale renewable energy project and forms part of our commitment to renewable energy and reducing our carbon footprint. It is one of the largest wind energy projects in the country and is important in showing the Eskom’s commitment to the growing role that renewable power will play in the future.” Brian Molefe, Eskom Acting CEO