Newcomer targets 500 MW Cape Town venture

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Pursuing its global expansion, Ireland's Mainstream Renewable Power has set up a joint venture in Cape Town with local renewables developer Genesis Eco-Energy to build over 500 MW of wind power in South Africa by 2014. Mainstream will hold the majority share in the new entity, which has a right of first refusal on all projects identified by Genesis. The aim is to secure at least 30 sites, mainly in the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape provinces with a view to building 10-15 projects over the next five years. This will be financed by a mix of project debt sourced from local banks and Mainstream's equity. Mainstream says the deal involves a capital expenditure of EUR 850 million by 2014. First off the blocks will probably be a 30 MW wind plant and pumped-storage facility at Jeffrey's Bay, near Port Elizabeth in Eastern Cape province, to be built in two phases, and a 40 MW installation at Colesberg in Northern Cape province. Both are at an advanced stage of development and could start building next year if all goes to plan. "We are confident that the South African government will shortly implement appropriate policies to kick-start and support the wind energy market," says Mainstream's founder, Eddie O'Connor. He sees South Africa as "a huge opportunity" for his company. O'Connor founded Mainstream last year after selling Airtricity to Scottish & Southern Energy.

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