The big news in South Africa in 2011 was the successful completion of round one of a tender for up to 1.85GW of wind energy. Eight companies with projects totalling 634MW were named as preferred bidders. Some could break ground this year. The second bidding window is due to close on 5 March, to be followed by a third on 20 August and two more in 2013.
Work should also start this year on a 100MW demonstration project developed by state utility Eskom at Sere in the Western Cape province. The country has just 10MW operating to date.
Ethiopia joined the wind power world in 2011, when French turbine-manufacturer Vergnet installed the first 30MW of a 120MW facility at Ashegoda. The remaining 90MW is slated to come online in early 2013.
Another project, a 51MW Chinese-backed wind farm is expected to be commissioned this summer at Nazret, in central Ethiopia.
The island nation made big strides too last year. When it commissioned a 25.5MW plant capable of generating up to 25% of its electricity needs. The country aims to source 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2020.
Nigeria and Mauritania
In addition to its Ethiopian build, Vergnet is also building and equipping a 10MW plant at Katsina in Nigeria, and 4.4MW at Nouadhibou in Mauritania.
Both should be finished this month, although grid connection in Nigeria could take slightly longer, the manufacturer says. Neither country currently has any installed wind capacity.
While 2011 was a frustrating year for the developers of Kenya's 300MW Lake Turkana project, they now expect to reach financial close next month and start construction soon after. Vestas has signed a conditional order to supply 365 turbines of 850kW.
Before any power can be fed on to the grid, however, a 430-kilometre-long transmission line has to be completed. This is being built by Spain's Isolux Corsan and backed by Spanish funds. Construction is expected to start this spring and could take anything from 18 to 23 months.
Meanwhile, the Kenya Electricity Generating Company hopes to complete two projects totalling 20MW at Ngong Hills this year, with Spanish and Belgian funding. Construction should also begin this year on a 61MW plant at Kinangop under a private initiative. Kenya's installed capacity currently stands at just 5MW.