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New South African wind farm operates with Nordex turbines: German technology successful abroad

In late July the Amakhala Emoyeni wind farm in South Africa achieved commercial operation. The onshore wind farm with a capacity of 134 megawatts is located near the town of Bedford in Eastern Cape.

The project was originally developed by Windlab in 2010 before Cennergi, a joint venture between Exxaro Resources and the Indian Tata Power, aquired the rights in 2012. In the second bidding round, the project finally received the approval of the South African government, however, prior to the actual start of construction in 2014, significant infrastructure expansion measures had to be done. In particular, the grid in the region had to be adapted to the requirements of fluctuating amounts of electricity.

The wind farm is located on the land of a total of four farms surrounded by pasture land. After extensive environmental protection measures before construction, even several endangered plants were resettled in the region first to have as little impact on the local flora and fauna as possible.

Cennergi had deliberately tried to get the local population on board: The resettlement measures were carried out by local contractors. In addition, various projects in the city of Bedford were supported in order to improve the environmental footprint of the company. They invested in a waste system that puts socially disadvantaged people to work and promoted the teaching of science subjects at different schools.

Cennergi CEO Thomas Garner explained the company's philosophy at the opening ceremony: “Cennergi, and Amakhala Emoyeni Wind Farm stays committed to its values of partnering with land owners, communities, local government and all other stakeholders to ensure empowerment of the local communities and especially historically disadvantaged people.”

Exxaro CEO Mxolisi Mgojo pointed out the attempt to expand the company’s position within the energy value chain beyond coal: “The commissioning of the Amkhala Emoyeni Wind farm fulfills Exxaro’s vision of extending its position in the energy value chain beyond coal. In addition, it is a tangible commitment to our environmental stewardship to reduce the impacts of carbon emissions in the medium to long term, whilst addressing the country’s short term electricity needs in the short term.”

Image: Nordex

German technology will help achieve this goal. Nordex delivered 56 of its 2.4MW N117 wind turbines, which are particularly well-suited for sites with low wind speeds. Thanks to a rotor diameter of 117 meters and a rotor sweep of 10,715 m², the N117 / 2400 is particularly efficient.

As part of the turnkey installation of the turbine manufacturer from Hamburg, Germany, was responsible not only for delivering and setting up the turbines, but also for laying the foundations and cables for the wind farm. Now the manufacturer will take over the maintenance for a period of at least ten years.

With 134.4 MW the Amakhala Emoyeni wind farm is the biggest project with Nordex turbines in South Africa to this day. Also thanks to the merger with Acciona the company hopes to be able to expand its market share in the growing markets of the future in Africa.

Katrin Radtke
South Africa, turbines, turbine manufacturer, Nordex, Cennergi, Exxaro, MW, commercial operation

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