In a continent where 600 million people have no access to electricity, it is important to tap into any renewable resource that is available. Africa has rich wind resources and can get much of its needed power from the wind. From the files of Afrik21, we read of many wind farm projects — from the giga to the mega. Get out your map and celebrate these steps of progress with me as wind powers more of Africa.
Egypt — mega and giga
Red Sea Wind Energy (RSWE) is developing its second wind farm in the Gulf of Suez in Egypt near the town of Ras Ghareb. Financing is being provided by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) in coordination with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Norinchukin Bank, and the French bank Société Générale. Together, they will enable the 500MW project to go ahead.
Chinese investment in Africa has increased tenfold in recent years. Japan wants to balance that. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), China’s investments in East Africa reached $8.2 billion in 2021.
The Ras Ghareb wind farm has been under construction since November 2022 and is expected to start commercial operations in the third quarter of 2025.
“According to RSWE, the wind farm under construction will be able to provide clean electricity to more than 800,000 Egyptian households. It will also help accelerate Egypt’s transition to renewable energy generation and reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 1 million tons per year after it comes online. For the record, RSWE is owned by a consortium consisting of French energy company Engie (35%), Egyptian flagship Orascom Construction (25%), Japanese investor Toyota Tsusho Corporation (20%), and its compatriot Eurus Energy Holdings Corporation (20%).”
In addition, Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power is planning to build a 1,100 MW wind farm in Egypt by 2026.
Dwarfing the RSWE wind farm will be the proposed 10,000 MW Masdar mega wind farm. Perhaps we should call it a giga wind farm. This will become the largest renewable energy project in North Africa, requiring an investment of $10 billion. The land has now been purchased.
“This is the project of a consortium formed by the Emirati energy company Masdar; Hassan Allam Utilities, the subsidiary of the Egyptian group Hassan Allam Holding; and Infinity Power, a joint venture between the Egyptian company Infinity Energy and Masdar.”
Some concerns have been expressed by environmentalists, as the land purchased for the mega project in the Gulf of Suez is located on the migratory route of many bird species from Europe to winter in Africa, mainly in the Great Lakes region. There is a proposal to stop the turbines during the passage of migratory birds.
The wind farm, which will be capable of producing 47,790 GWh of electricity per year, is expected to reduce Egypt’s annual emissions by around 9% and save at least $5 billion on the cost of natural gas. Currently, Egypt produces almost 60% of its electricity from gas. Egypt has a strategic goal to obtain 42% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
In South Africa, Red Rocket, an independent power producer, is building three wind farms: the Brandvalley, the Rietkloof and the Wolf. These will be situated in the Eastern and Western Cape and have a combined capacity of 373 MW.
“Vestas will supply and install 64 V150-4.5 MW turbines, 12 V163-4.5 MW turbines and five Enventus V162-6.2 MW turbines. The company will also maintain the three wind farms under a 15-year ‘Active Output Management 5000 (AOM 5000)’ contract.
“’The projects will provide R740 million ($40.6 million) of community investment over 20 years through local social projects. The wind farms will be operational by 2024,’ says Matteo Brambilla, Red Rocket’s managing director.
“Once operational, the Brandvalley, Rietkloof and Wolf wind farms will be capable of producing 1,500 GWh of clean electricity per annum. Vestas has provided turbines for several wind farms in South Africa with 1.3 GW capacity installed or under construction.
“Also in South Africa, the 89 MW Castle wind farm has begun construction. The facility will provide clean electricity for Sibanye-Stillwater’s mining operations near the town of De Aar, in the Northern Cape province.
“The farm will comprise 16 Goldwind 6 MW turbines and will be connected to the national grid via the Hydra main transmission station owned by state-owned Eskom.
“’This project marks our first major step in implementing our portfolio of over 550 MW of renewable projects and is an important milestone in our journey towards carbon neutrality by 2040. The project will not only play a key role in reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change, but will also deliver Sibanye-Stillwater electricity savings and energy security for operations in South Africa,’ says Neal Froneman, Sibanye-Stillwater’s Chief Executive Officer.”
Kenya boasts the Lake Turkana wind farm. It is the largest in East Africa, with a capacity of 310.25 MW.
365 wind turbines are spread over an area of 160 km2 in the district of Loiyangalani, in Marsabit County, about 545 km by road north of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. The wind farm is covered by a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) signed between Lake Turkana Wind Power and the state-owned Kenya Power Company.
Wind powers Africa.
Namibia is soon to have a new 50 MW wind farm jointly funded by China Energy Engineering Corporation (CEEC) and the Namibian company Riminii Investments. The farm will be situated 16 km from the southern city of Lüderitz in the Karas region on the Atlantic Ocean at a cost of $76.6 million.
“The project will make a significant contribution to NamPower’s supply portfolio when combined with other generation projects that are part of its integrated strategy and business plan,” says Kahenge Haulofu, NamPower’s managing director.
Namibia imports 60% of its electricity from Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa. These countries are experiencing their own energy crises, making power supply precarious. Currently, seven clean energy plants are connected to Namibia’s national power grid, with a combined capacity of 76.5 MW. The extra 50 MW will be welcome.
Is it concerning that so much capital to establish these projects is coming from the developed world? I hope we are not seeing a new form of colonialism — capital used to develop renewable energy projects may promote dependence and not independence for Africa. Wind powers Africa, but in the end, it remains to be seen who will own the electricity-generating resources.
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