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Wind Farm Provides COVID-19 Aid

Wind energy in South Africa has an eventful past: once celebrated as a new trend market, its expansion came to a virtual standstill after a change of government. But for some time now, South Africans have again been relying on the power of the wind. This now also benefits the country in the fight against the Corona virus.

One of only two wind farm projects completed this year in South Africa: The Kangnas wind farm with 61 turbines (Image: Kangnas Wind)One of only two wind farm projects completed this year in South Africa: The Kangnas wind farm with 61 turbines (Image: Kangnas Wind)

South Africa is one of the African countries worst affected by the Corona pandemic. When the first wave reached the country in spring this year, the government imposed a lockdown, which also affected the construction work for the Kangnas wind farm.

The 140 MW wind farm is located just over 50 km east of the city of Springbok in the province of Northern Cape. Construction work on the project had already been underway since 2018 and could only gradually resume after 19 May 2020, when the first easing measures were adopted.

Now project developer Lekela Power, who is exclusively active in Africa, can announce completion: This week commercial operation of the wind farm finally started. Now 61 wind turbines produce enough electricity for 154,625 households in South Africa, the operator announced.

A dusty affair: a rotor blade is transported to the construction site (Image: Kangnas Wind)

The company relies on local support: more than 50 percent of the materials were produced in South Africa, including the two transformers. At the peak of construction, more than 550 people were employed by the wind farm, which consists of 61 Siemens SWT-2.3-108 wind turbines that are to supply electricity for at least 20 years.

Chris Antonopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of Lekela, points out the importance of the wind farm: "Just five years after Lekela was created, this is a significant milestone for us all. Kangnas completes what only existed as ideas on a piece of paper just a few years ago".

The wind farm will enable South Africa to save around 550,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. However, it has another important role in the Corona pandemic: the communities in the surrounding area are direct beneficiaries of development programmes aimed at strengthening social resilience. In addition to scholarships, which are financed with the wind farm's donations, welfare and aid projects to combat the Corona pandemic are also supported.

Thus the local health centre in Springbok was able to finance oxygen equipment and protective gear with funds from the wind farm. Food parcels for families and hand sanitizers for local communities were also purchased, according to Christo Loots, manager of the construction programme for the Kangnas wind farm.

The Dr Van Niekerk Hospital benefits from the wind farm (Image: Kangnas Wind)

Wind energy should also play an important role in the recovery of the country after Corona. “Kangnas’ success supporting local manufacturing and jobs is an indicator of how low-carbon technologies can drive renewed economic growth in the wake of COVID. No other source of energy has the pace of development, nor the backing of governments, communities and companies that wind and solar do. We have to capitalise on this appetite to ensure the number of Africans without access to electricity continues to fall, not rise, in the next decade,” said Antonopoulos.

His company, together with a consortium, built five wind farms with a total capacity of over 600 MW throughout South Africa in recent years. A further 11 wind farms were awarded a contract in the last round of government auctions.

“These projects will collectively add 1.3 GW of new wind power capacity onto the country’s national grid at a time when South Africa needs more available energy to support the rebuilding of the country in a post-COVID era,” said Manie Kotzé, Construction Project Manager of Kangnas Wind Farm. This is a ray of hope for the pandemic-stricken country.

Katrin Radtke
Lekela, South Africa, wind farm, onshore, turbine, Africa, developer, online, pandemic, corona virus, COVID-19, Kangnas, electricity

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