The Jeffrey’s Bay Wind Project

The Darling Wind Farm was the first commercial wind turbine project in South Africa. (Reuters)

The Darling Wind Farm was the first commercial wind turbine project in South Africa. (Reuters)

Situated between Jeffrey’s Bay and Humansdorp in the Eastern Cape lies an immense development of wind turbines that spans 3700 hectares.

This is the new Jeffrey’s Bay Wind Farm, an impressive project that takes South Africa closer towards meeting its energy needs through renewable power.

The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), along with Globeleq, Old Mutual and Mainstream Renewable Power, has invested in the creation of this 238MW wind farm that will bring power to 110 000 South African homes.

The project is on track for completion by mid-2014 and will provide clean, renewable electrical energy to the tune of 460 000MWh per year.

The site was selected for a number of reasons, like the optimal wind conditions, a relatively flat topography, minimal environmental constraints and close proximity to the 132kV Eskom grid line.

“This project has been successful for many reasons, but there are three that bear mentioning. The first is that it is underpinned by great technical partners who have done similar projects in other parts of the world,” says TP Nchocho, group executive for SA financing at the DBSA.

“Secondly, Thebe Investment Corporation and some of the other partners are not just equity holders doing nothing; they play an active role in the management of the project. And, thirdly, the technology is superb. The wind turbines are of exceptional quality with high yields and design.”

The DBSA played a prominent role in the initiative, delivering senior debt financing, alongside ABSA Capital, Liberty Group and Sanlam to partly finance the development, construction and commissioning of the wind farm, which received environmental authorisation from the department of environmental affairs in 2011 and will address some of the critical energy shortages facing the country at this time.

In addition to this, the DBSA provided black economic empowerment (BEE) equity financing designed to facilitate the acquisition of equity shareholding by BEE investors.

The beneficiaries of this level of investment were the Thebe Investment Corporation, the Amandla Omoya Trust, Enzani Technologies and Usizo Engineering.

“The benefits of the Jeffrey’s Bay Wind Farm extend beyond the production of much-needed renewable energy,” says Nchocho.

“It creates opportunity for temporary and permanent work placements, the creation of enterprise development opportunities and the added benefit of annually reducing carbon emissions by 420 000 tonnes and 8 400 000 tonnes over 20 years.”

The project has mandated the use of local businesses when procuring supplies for its construction and maintenance.

The local community has seen an influx of capital in the area and there has been the provision of funding for programmes that incorporate socio-economic and enterprise development.

The goal was to use this initiative to create procurement and employment opportunities as well as education support programmes for the duration of both the construction and operation of the project.

A number of projects have been earmarked within the local communities in a 50km radius of the wind farm and the budget allocation will focus on education with numeracy and literacy at primary level, maths and science for secondary level, and bursaries for tertiary education.

“It is really incredible to see how well this project is going and to see the positive impact it is having on the local communities,” says Nchocho.

“It is running on schedule for its launch later this year and it is something that we at the DBSA are extremely proud of to have been a part of creating.”

The contents and photographs in this article were compiled with, paid for and signed off by the Development Bank of Southern Africa. This article forms part of a larger supplement