Cape Town - The government has given the go-ahead for seven more private wind farms and six solar power plants to be built.
The companies were selected by the Department of Energy this week in its third round of choosing companies that put in bids to build renewable power plants.
The bids form part of the government’s commitment to having 3 725 megawatts of new electricity generation come from renewable power plants by 2020. The industry says the price has dropped by such an extent that wind power is now the cheapest form of new electricity generation.
One 100MW wind farm, contracted to supply energy to Eskom over 20 years, could mean a saving of R3 billion over this period.
The seven new wind power projects that have been approved are:
- Three wind farms in the Northern Cape to be built by Mainstream Renewable Power: the 140MW Khobab Wind Farm and the 140MW Loeriesfontein Wind Farm, both in the Namakwa district, and the 80MW Noupoort Wind Farm in the Umsobomvu district.
- Two wind farms, one of 100MW and another of 140MW, to be built in the De Aar district by Mulilo/Longyang.
- One wind farm of 111MW to be built at Kouga in the Eastern Cape by Red Cap.
- One wind farm of 88MW to be built near Cookhouse in the Eastern Cape by ACED.
The six new solar photovoltaic power plants are:
- One 75MW solar photovoltaic plant to be built by Mulilo/Sonnerdix near Prieska.
- One 75MW solar photovoltaic plant to be built by Mulilo/Total near Prieska.
- Four solar photovoltaic plants producing a total of 314MW to be built by Enel Green Power in the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Free State and Limpopo.
The average cost of wind power in the first selection round in 2011 was R1.14 a kilowatt hour.
This came down to 89c/kWh in the second round of bids.
Although the industry did not yet know what the average price of wind was in this week’s bids, they confirmed that the cheapest bid for wind was 70c/kWh.
The price of electricity from the Medupi coal power station, which is under construction, is estimated to be R1.05/kWh.
The cheapest solar power was 90c/kWh.
John van den Berg, chief executive of the South African Wind Energy Association, said yesterday although the exchange rate was against the local industry, the price of wind power had nevertheless decreased. In euros, the price had dropped in the past two years from 11c/kWh (R1.49/kWh) to 5.7c/kWh (77.6c/kWh).
“That is very close to half and makes wind significantly cheaper than anything else,” Van den Berg said.
“It is definitely the lowest-priced energy source in South Africa.
“We hope South Africa will seize this opportunity and build all the wind power that is technically feasible.” - Cape Times