Metro wind farm moves a step closer

14:54 (GMT+2) Thu, 12 Jul 2012

Its all systems go for the development of the Eastern Cape's first full functioning wind farm.

Renewable energy company, Metrowind, said Thursday that it has received the final go-ahead for the construction and operation of a 27 megawatt wind farm at Van Stadens on the outskirts of Nelson Mandela Bay.

The R550m investment will see nine, three megawat wind turbines being erected on a farm in the area.

When the wind farm is in full commercial operation by August next year it will provide 80 million kilowat hours to the local electricity grid, accounting for nearly half of Nelson Mandela Bay's 10 percent renewable energy target.

Metrowind director, Ian Curry, the Van Stadens Wind Farm is a sound project.

"It's about clean, renewable energy that's being generated. The country's in dire straits when it comes to generation capacity. We're adding another 27MW onto the grid. 80 000 megawat hours of electricity that will provide electricity close to source to around 5000 to 6000 home. That energy will be reducing our carbon footprint and saving a lot of water as well," said Curry.

Curry says over the 20-year-license period the Metrowind will plough an estimated R50m into local communities who will own a 5% stake in the Van Stadens Wind Farm through a trust. He says 35% of the company is black owned.

Construction of the wind farm is expected to commence in September with the construction of road infrastructure and will go into commercial operation in September 2013.

The project could still face hurdles from residents of the seaside hamlet of Blue Horizon Bay who have been vehemently opposed to the construction of the wind farm virtually on their doorstep.

While the project has already received all the necessary regulator approval, including approval from the Energy Ministry as an independent power producer, residents say they are considering legal options.

"The way forward for the community of Blue Horizon Bay is to consider its legal options which might include approaching the high court for an interdict to prevent the construction of this wind farm," said Dr Henk Botha.

"We (also) waiting for an answer from Bhisho (the provincial government) on an appeal that we have lodged against the municipality's approval of a special use consent to use agricultural land for industrial purposes for the erection of a wind farm," he said.