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Home » Industry News » Renewable Energy & Alternative Energy Solutions » SA’s largest private renewable energy plant gets green light

SA’s largest private renewable energy plant gets green light

The construction of the three 110-megawatt (MW) Impofu wind farms in Kouga Eastern Cape will begin in March 2024 – this will be the largest pure private renewable energy plant in South Africa. At a length of 116 kilometres, the project also boasts the longest privately permitted powerline developed for any renewable energy project in the country. Following over a decade of planning and stakeholder engagement, the wind farms are scheduled to be operational in 2025.

“Since 2013, we’ve signed up 87 separate parcels of land for the powerline and spent years negotiating with farmers to lease land on which to build wind turbines. In total, the wind farm’s 57 turbines will extend across 12 pieces of land – with significant benefits for landowners and local agricultural output,” says Jadon Schmidt, Business Development Manager at Red Cap Energy, and project manager of the Impofu project since its inception.

Red Cap, a renewable energy developer, worked closely with landowners to plot the position of each wind turbine, managing expectations and leveraging local in-depth knowledge of the landscape; “The whole process has been pretty smooth. I had a good idea of where I didn’t want roadways to go, to make sure I didn’t end up with unusable pieces of land. Besides that, I made suggestions about where it would and wouldn’t work to put up the turbines, for example, if an area was too wet or difficult to access,” says Vernon Basson, owner of Vergaderingskraal, who has leased land for the Impofu project.

The turbines will be constructed with locally made concrete towers. Once complete, the development will supply 330MW of renewable energy to Sasol South Africa’s Secunda site, where French-based industrial gas supplier Air Liquide operates the largest oxygen production site globally. In partnership with multinational renewable energy corporation Enel Green Power, the R9-billion project was subject to an extensive environmental impact assessment and public engagement process.

Red Cap faced several challenges during development, including the discovery of a Marshall Eagle nest in the area, a year and a half into the impact assessment process. Collaborating with local environmental organisations, the placement of certain turbines had to be reviewed to ensure the protection of the endangered bird. The powerline was also rerouted and redesigned on numerous occasions, to accommodate objections from a small portion of landowners.

“The relationships we’ve established with everyone involved have been critical to the success of the project and overcoming obstacles. We are so grateful to the landowners, who had to be incredibly patient and flexible during the planning process. Then there’s the host of environmental specialists, who helped us ensure that we’ve made the best decisions for all animals and people who depend on the land,” says Schmidt.

“The extra income from the turbines is going to help us keep our livestock healthy and deal with drought during the summer. We are going to use this opportunity to grow and expand our farming interests,” says Xolile Peter Lamani, Chairperson of the Reebok Rant Worker’s Trust – who own a dairy farm near Oyster Bay that has leased land for the wind farm.

Red Cap Energy is a leading local developer in renewable energy, with a depth of experience developing wind farms. To date, Red Cap Energy has developed 191MW of installed wind power and has 1.5-gigwatts (GW) of wind power fully permitted, with an additional 2GW in various stages of development. For more information, visit www.red-cap.co.za

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