Sub-Saharan Africa - South Africa booms amid new entrants

SUB-SAHARAN FRICA: For another year, Ethiopia was the star performer in Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of new capacity added in 2013, although it will be easily overtaken this year by South Africa's surging market. Progress elsewhere is coming in fits and starts.

Headwind… With South Africa set to take over as regional wind leader, the final turbine is taken to Jeffrey's Bay wind far
Headwind… With South Africa set to take over as regional wind leader, the final turbine is taken to Jeffrey's Bay wind far

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Front runners: Ethiopia and South Africa

The completion of the French-backed Ashegoda facility saw 88MW added in Ethiopia last year, comprising 53 Alstom 1.67MW turbines. This gives the country 171MW of operating capacity. A further 153MW is under construction at Adama II, this time with Chinese support. HydroChina and CGCOC are building and will operate the facility, while Sany is supplying the turbines. The project is due to finish this year.

While South Africa still had just 10MW turning at the end of 2013, the country should add a staggering 750MW this year. Of this, eight projects totalling 651MW were awarded during the first round of the government's renewable energy independent power producer procurement programme. A further 563MW of round-two projects are under construction, with 787MW in the pipeline from round three. A fourth bidding window for up to 1.34GW of wind capacity closes on 21 July. The other 100MW due online this year is at utility Eskom's Sere demonstration plant.

Meanwhile, South Africa is building an industrial sector on the back of its increasingly stringent local content requirement, now targeting 65%. South African heavy-engineering group DCD started producing steel towers this spring, while Gestamp's tower factory should be in operation by the end of the year.

Kenya, Mauritania, Seychelles and Nigeria

Although Kenya built no new capacity last year, resting at 5MW, in March Belgium's TPF Econoler was due to finish installing its 6.8MW plant, equipped with Vestas turbines, at Ngong Hills. TPF is now waiting for the transmission company to complete the substation and grid connection. Work should also start soon on Aeolus Kenya's 61MW Kinangop project, featuring GE machines and slated for commissioning in mid-2015. Meanwhile, the much-delayed 310MW Turkana project is still battling towards financial close.

The Seychelles commissioned its first 6MW facility in 2013, powered by Unison turbines, while Mauritania also kicked off with 4.4MW supplied by Vergnet. A further 30MW should start turning in Mauritania this year, this time with Gamesa turbines.

Likewise, Nigeria might join the club this year with the completion of Vergnet's 10MW unit at Katsina. Construction was delayed after one of the French engineers was kidnapped by Islamic militants. He escaped in December, and Vergnet had previously said it would hire local subcontractors to finish the work.

In the pipeline: Tanzania and Senegal

All being well, construction should start this year on Tanzania's first utility-scale facility, a 50MW project at Singida with Chinese funding. Geo Wind Power Tanzania, a joint venture between the National Development Corporation, utility Tanesco and Power Pool East Africa, says it is in the last stages of financial close.

In Senegal, the French company Sarreole last year signed a power purchase agreement with state utility Senelec for what will also be the country's first commercial wind farm. Sarreole hopes to reach financial close this summer and to have all 46 Vestas 3.3MW turbines fully operational by 2017.

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