Darling! Wind power comes to SA

2008-05-23 00:00

Cape Town — The little town of Darling in the Western Cape made history yesterday when Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica officially switched on South Africa’s first wind farm, the Darling Wind Farm.

The R75-million national demonstration project, which will produce electricity from wind power on a commercial basis, could not be better timed, as the country faces a national energy emergency.

The Darling Wind Farm currently has four wind turbines that can supply 5,2 MW of electricity, but the number will increase when the project moves into its next phase.

The city of Cape Town has signed a long-term power purchase agreement for all the electricity produced.

The landmark project was developed by a group consisting of the private developer Darling Independent Power Producer, CEF (Pty) Ltd, which manages renewable energy interests on behalf of the government and the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

A portion of the funding was provided as a grant by the Danish International Development Assistance programme of the Danish government.

The project will be used as a foundation for the acceleration of the development of other “green’’ electricity projects.

Chief executive officer of Darling Wind Power, Hermann Oelsner, said that, with its ample coastline, South Africa has the potential for major electricity generation from wind.

“The country has the potential to generate electricity from wind in excess of its current total national power consumption and without the harmful effects of fossil fuel and nuclear-powered generations plants,’’ Oelsner said. He said that SA has seven times the length of Germany’s coastline, where 18 000 turbines are installed.

Launching the project, Sonjica said her department will continue to engage with all renewable energy suppliers and projects to ensure that they contribute to the country’s energy supplies.

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