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Cape Verde

Cape Verde

Island aid for more wind

Installed wind capacity on the islands of Cape Verde in the mid Atlantic may soon more than triple to almost 11 MW if overseas aid money, partially from the World Bank, is forthcoming. A decision on the grant is expected by January. The planned 7.8 MW addition would cost up to about $9.6 million.

The World Bank will act as the implementing agency for $3.7 million, to come from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) operated by the bank and the United Nations. Of the GEF money, $450,000 is in technical assistance. The balance of the project financing would be private money, according to the bank's Richard Spencer.

The bank expects to issue a competitive international tender for a strategic partner to work with the Cap Verde utility, Electra. Off-grid supply systems, including photovoltaic, for community and household use, are to come out of the same pool of cash. A tender will not go out, however, until the privatisation of Electra, now ongoing, is complete. Today the islands, 400 miles off the African coast, are home to eight 300 kW Nordtank turbines on Praia, Mindelo, and Sal, which began operating commercially in December 1996. They were installed with aid from Danida, Denmark's development agency.

The islands' wind resource is extremely good. Spencer, who has spent a good deal of time in Cape Verde, notes that two of the current turbines -- both on Mindelo -- have operated at remarkably high capacity factors: 64% and 67% in 1997, compared with a more normal level for mainland projects of around 35%. The new projects could lead to a penetration of up to one-third wind in the islands' grids. Mindelo's grid capacity is 16 MW and it could have up to 3 MW of wind. Another island has a 14.5 MW grid and could ultimately have 4.8 MW of wind.

The remoteness of the islands poses problems for development as well as operation and maintenance. The bids, to be chosen on a least cost basis, must include everything. For example, there is only one crane in Cape Verde large enough for such construction, and the Danes left it behind.

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