Index 75MW Solar Farm planned for Riebeeck East
Date Added: 02 August 2013

75MW SOLAR FARM PLANNED FOR RIEBEECK EAST

Another renewable energy project, this time a 75MW solar farm, has been planned for Riebeeck East, just outside Grahamstown in the Makana Local Municipality. Grahamstown-based Terra Renewables, previously called Terra Power Solutions, told Cacadu News that they intend to construct the solar farm, titled Makanaone Brack Kloof, about 15 km west of Grahamstown. The full value of this investment is about R2.5 billion. Terra Renewables, of whom Makanaone will be a subsidiary, have, since 2008, been involved in a host of other wind and solar projects in the Eastern Cape and elsewhere in South Africa. “Terra Renewables is responding to the need for renewable energy to be developed quickly and responsibly in South Africa to assist in alleviating the growing energy shortfall,” said the company’s Project Manager, Rob Cooper. He described, “A lot of investigative work was done in identifying areas that would have sufficient wind/solar resources and a connection to the grid.

The Makanaone project area was identified and landowners were contacted to find out if there was interest in being part of the project. This was certainly the case and thus the project could commence.” Cooper said, collectively, the planned projects will have a 140MW wind farm and four 75MW solar PV installations. The project also involves the construction of a sub-station, from which the power generated will be fed into the Eskom grid via the 132kV line that crosses the site. When asked why the Makana area was chosen, Cooper explained that the region was particularly good for wind energy and offered an above-average site for solar energy production. “The criteria also included connectivity to the grid and land-owners who are interested in joining the project (seven farmers have already signed up with the project),” he said, stating, “The Eastern Cape, in general, offers huge potential for renewable energy development level. As developers we are grateful for the assistance being given by local municipalities and their support for the projects.”

According to Cooper, communities living around the Makanaone project will also benefit from employment opportunities throughout the project’s duration as well as through many new revenue streams as a result of increased demand for local goods and services during the feasibility and construction phases. “It is also envisaged that there will be a provision for community shareholding and a percentage of the turnover of the project will go towards community development and upliftment. This will be carried out via a Trust, which is to be created and independently managed,” he said. To minimise the environmental impact of the project, he said a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is being carried out and the project will be developed in accordance with all regulations and requirements stipulated by the Department of Environmental Affairs.

“To date, the project has collected information on both wind and solar resources over the last two years. The EIA is at final scoping phase and specialist studies are expected to commence within the next few months. “The project is earmarked for a Round 4 submission in the Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (IPPPP) process which is expected in August 2014. If the project is successful in the bid, construction could commence in the middle of 2015,” concluded Cooper.