In December, China Longyuan Power Group, Asia's largest power developer, unveiled plans to build five wind plants in South Africa in the second quarter of 2011 as part of a $450 million global wind investment budget.
The Hong Kong-listed firm says that South African wind energy projects are crucial to meeting its goal of becoming the world leader in installed wind energy capacity. Longyuan plans to install at least 11GW by next year and 18GW by 2015.
South Africa and China have signed a private partnership agreement that will see Longyuan team up with Cape Town-based renewable energy firm Mulilo Renewable Energy (MRE). The new business, called Longyuan-Mulilo Green Energy, will spearhead construction of the five wind energy plants, with the bidding process expected this quarter. The plants' capacity and final costs are yet to be confirmed.
Meanwhile, the consortium developing a 300MW wind farm in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province has advertised tenders for wind turbine suppliers for the 100MW first phase of the $292 million project.
One of the wind farm development partners, Evolution One, injected an additional $20.5 million into the project through its parent company, Inspired Evolution Investment Management, a clean-technology fund manager. The project, known as Red Cap Kouga Wind Farm, is being developed by Cape Town-based renewable energy firm Red Cap.
Evolution One joined initial partners - Red Cap, Port Elizabeth-based engineering company Afri-Coast Engineers and Cape-Town-based wind project developer Euro Cape Renewables - last July after buying a 26% stake in the investment.
Red Cap chief executive Mark Tanton says that it is in talks with most major turbine suppliers to South Africa.
While the bidding process for the first renewable energy feed-in tariff projects was first expected to begin in October, the Department of Energy said in December that it would probably not begin until March. This is partly because the draft Integrated Resource Plan for electricity, which provides a framework for electricity generation in the country over the next 20 years, is still being reviewed by stakeholders.
The feed-in tariff for wind of $0.14/kWh, announced in early 2009 by the National Energy Regulator, aims to stimulate the generation of 10TWh of electricity per year by 2013.