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    MPUMALANGA - Work to start on biggest wind farm in SA

    February 3, 2023 - Business Day


      MPUMALANGAWork to start on biggest wind farm in SA

      Seriti Resources says the first phase of what will be SA’s largest wind farm will come online in 2025

      Energy CorrespondentConstruction of SA’s largest wind farm is set to get under way in the heartland of the country’s coal industry. It will be able to outperform neighbouring Eskom’s Tutuka power.

      The landscape in Mpumalanga, home to most of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations and surrounded by the coal mines that supply them, will be transformed with the development of Seriti Green’s 900MW wind farm, which will sprawl over about 27,000ha of farm land.

      The first phase of the project, construction of a 155MW wind farm, will start after Seriti Green and Seriti Resources have signed a power purchase deal.

      "This will be SA’s largest wind farm, and this first phase [of 155MW] will come online in 2025," Layton Nenzinane, corporate finance specialist at Seriti Resources, said on Thursday.

      In December 2022 Seriti Resources, one of the largest suppliers of coal to Eskom, concluded a R892m deal to acquire a majority stake in Windlab Africa’s portfolio of 4GW wind and solar power assets through its subsidiary Seriti Green.

      Seriti said at the time most of the projects will be in SA, most of them in Mpumalanga, site of many of Seriti’s coal assets, to supply the company with renewable energy to power its own operations.

      Peter Venn, CEO of Seriti Green and former MD of Windlab, said there is a lot of scepticism about investing in wind power in Mpumalanga, but the company believes the project will be successful and expects the turbines to be able to operate at a capacity of 40%.

      "This means it will outperform Eskom’s Tutuka power station, which is just around the corner, operating at an energy availability factor of less than 20%," Venn said.

      Through the long-term Seriti Green-Seriti Resources power offtake agreement, the miner will acquire power from the wind farm for 20%-40% less than it buys from Eskom now.

      The first 155MW phase of the 900MW wind farm will supply about three-quarters of Seriti’s power needs. Building on the remaining 745MW will start over the next three years. Venn said the company is in discussion with large, industrial power users about offtake agreements for this power.

      The 155MW wind farm will cost about R4bn to develop, including a R1.5bn investment in new infrastructure needed for connection to the grid. This will partly be owned by Eskom.

      "We need to start building [renewable energy] in Mpumalanga, so people know that the [just energy transition] is real," said Venn.

      In October 2022, Eskom started decommissioning the 1,000MW Komati power station near Middelburg. Next in line, and also in Mpumalanga, are Hendrina, Camden and Grootvlei with combined capacity of about 4,700MW. They will be shut down piecemeal in the next four or five years.

      Winds of change: Renewable energy projects need to start so that the just transition is visible, says Seriti Green CEO Peter Venn. Reuters


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