This is despite electricity prices being driven ever higher by expensive diesel imports and unprecedented growth in demand. The resulting power shortages continue to seriously constrain economic and social development.
The South African wind industry had a very positive year overall. Although installed capacity remained at 10MW, the big news in 2012 was reaching financial close on eight projects totalling 634MW selected in the first bidding round of the renewable energy independent power producer programme (REIPPP). This had been planned for June, but problems with the legal framework delayed closure until the very end of the year. The projects are now under construction to meet the 2014 deadline. Turbine supply is roughly equally divided between Nordex (175MW), Vestas (138MW), Suzlon (135MW) and Siemens (134MW), with Sinovel clinching 52MW.
In May, the government announced the preferred bidders from round two, consisting of seven projects with a combined capacity of 562MW. These are supposed to reach financial close this month for commissioning in 2014. But the submission date for round three has been postponed once again and will now take place in August. This will allow lessons from round one to be assimilated into the tender terms, the government says.
At the same time, the energy ministry will incorporate the increase in the REIPPP announced in October. The original programme offered up to 1.85GW of wind energy to be operating in 2016. An extra 1.47GW will now be tendered for deployment by 2020, partly to give the industry greater visibility and promote job creation.
In response to local-content requirements specified in the REIPPP tender, a manufacturing base is starting to take shape. Isivunguvungu Wind Energy Converter (I-WEC) has begun producing blades and tower sections for a 2.5MW demonstration turbine to be manufactured under licence from German engineering consultancy Aerodyn. I-WEC expects to install the turbine by the summer, and to inaugurate its new tower factory in Eastern Cape province by the end of the year.
Ethiopia added 53MW in 2012 to take its installed capacity to 83MW. Of this, 51MW went up at Adama I with Chinese backing. Owned and operated by HydroChina in partnership with Chinese construction group CGCOC and using Goldwind turbines, the facility was largely financed with a loan from China's Export-Import Bank. The remaining 1.67MW of new capacity was a single Alstom turbine added at Ashegoda, where 30 Vergnet 1MW machines were commissioned in late 2011. Vergnet expects to finish installing all 54 Alstom turbines in May and bring them online by September to complete the second phase of the 120MW facility.
Next up will be 153MW at Adama II, undertaken by the same team as Adama I, but with Sany turbines. Commissioning is scheduled for mid-2014. In the meantime, feasibility studies are being carried out for 300MW at Aysha split into three projects.
Last year was another frustrating one for Kenya, which remains with just 5MW operating. The consortium behind the 310MW Lake Turkana project had hoped to reach financial close, but it was not to be. After months of waiting, in October the World Bank declined to provide the financial guarantees required by potential lenders, mainly because of fears that Kenya would not be able to consume all the electricity. In December, however, the African Development Bank, one of the project's lead arrangers, said it would furnish the guarantees. It is now waiting for government approval.
Work should also start this summer on a delayed 6.8MW project at Ngong Hills being built by TPF Econoler with Belgian funding and Vestas turbines. Commissioning is scheduled for 2014.
Mauritania and Nigeria
Vergnet is currently commissioning Mauritania's first utility-scale installation, a 4.4MW plant at Nouadhibou. The company is also building and equipping a 10MW plant at Katsina in Nigeria. However, work was suspended in December following the abduction of a French engineer by an Islamist group.
Seychelles and Cape Verde
This summer the Seychelles should inaugurate its first wind-power project, a 6MW installation on the main island of Mahe. South Korea's Unison is equipping and building the project on a turnkey basis on behalf of Abu Dhabi-owned renewable energy investment vehicle Masdar Power. Cape Verde did not add any capacity to the 25.5MW installed last year.