The Wesley-Ciskei Wind Farm situated near Hamburg in the Eastern Cape was recently connected to the grid, reports Renewable Energy Developer and Operator, EDF Renewables.
Eastern Cape, South Africa (04 August 2021) – The Wesley-Ciskei Wind Farm holds great significance for the Eastern Cape Province; it is the first and only wind energy project located in a former homeland region of the Eastern Cape, despite such regions representing almost 40% of the Province’s landmass and being host to 60% of the Province’s population.
“We now have grid connection, so start hot-commissioning of the turbines and complete the reliability testing. After that, we will prove Grid Code Compliance, which will be verified, and thereafter we will start Commercial Operations,” said EDF Renewables Project Manager Carl Wlotzka.
Construction of the Wind Farm started in September 2019, and production to start in September 2021.
Built through the COVID-19 pandemic, the project lived through the level 5 lockdown, where it ceased all construction activities for 8 weeks.
“We also had to implement strict COVID19 health and safety protocols upon re-opening of the site, which concentrated on a range of measures to combat the spread of the pandemic – fortunately, the project was not significantly delayed,” said Wlotzka.
“Given the COVID challenges, we are extremely happy to have achieved this milestone on the project. We are proud to be playing a key role in contributing to South Africa’s renewable energy goals and to the economic development of the Eastern Cape region,” said CEO of EDF Renewables in South Africa, Tristan De Drouas.
EDF Renewables has contributed significantly to South Africa’s renewable energy goals, having already completed four wind farms for the South African Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP), including the Waainek, Chaba and Grassridge projects, which contribute 107.1MW to the grid.
Wesley-Ciskei WEF comprises 10 turbines supplying 34.5MW AC. The technology employed on the wind farm includes some of the largest turbines installed in South Africa, with a hub height of 117m and each blade being 63m long, making each turbine stand 180m tall.
“It was a big transportation challenge to navigate the South African road network with extremely heavy turbine components and blades that are up to 63m in length. These components were delivered to Wesley-Ciskei WEF and installed in two months,” commented Wlotzka.
The project has created numerous jobs and resulted in several key economic development initiatives in the community, including an SMME development and upskilling programme. The objective was to assist approximately 50 SMME’s in the communities surrounding the project site in upskilling in the following areas: Health and Safety, Communication Skills, Financing and Tendering. The project appointed SAICA ED to facilitate the programme.
A bursary scheme also assisted two students in the local community to study at an institution of higher learning.
During the pandemic hard lockdown, over 400 food parcels were delivered to the community and local businesses manufactured face masks and hand sanitisers for the site.
The Project is also the subject of an academic study by the University of the Free State to assess the socio-economic impact that the Wesley – Ciskei project has on its local communities since it is the first renewable energy project under the REIPPP programme located in this former homeland area in South Africa. Phase 1 of the study developed a baseline of the area, and phase 2 of the study will measure the same indicators at the end of the construction phase in order to have a comparative effect.