2021-07-24
http://w3.windfair.us/wind-energy/news/22639-focus-on-africa-gigantic-challenges-for-wind-industry

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Wind Industry Profile of


Focus on Africa: Gigantic Challenges for Wind Industry

Africa, a continent of contrasts. This is still the case when you take a closer look at the energy supply. Two projects from different countries show the challenges wind industry is to face if they want to get involved locally.

When asking people from the wind energy industry to name future markets, South Africa is dropped pretty quickly. Without question, the country at the southern tip of the African continent has catapulted itself onto the business cards of the industry in recent years. Currently, according to SAWEA (South African Wind Energy Association), there are approximately 1053 megawatts of installed wind energy, while building permits for another 2,000 megawatts were already given out. Compared to the European markets these are still relatively small numbers, but keeping in mind that in 2011 in South Africa only 10 megawatts were installed, the country has made a great leap.

Currently, project developer Mainstream Renewable Power, headquartered in Ireland, announced that the construction of the South African Loeriesfontain wind farm has just started its next important phase: The installation of 61 turbines has recently begun. But it will take until the end of 2017 before this 140 MW wind farm supplies energy for 120,000 households.

The biggest problem in South Africa is still the lack of infrastructure. One reason for building Loeriesfontain wind farm at the chosen location -  in addition to the excellent wind conditions - is its proximity to existing roads. Thus the turbines are ensured a smooth transport. Even more important is the presence of a substation in 11 kilometers distance to the wind farm. And although the government has made intensive efforts to adjust the local infrastructure and already conducted several auctions to attract investors to the country, it is still a challenge to transport the heavy items to where they are needed. The weight of the nacelle of a turbine in Loeriesfontein Wind Farm alone is already 82.5 tonnes.

“The process of constructing the turbines requires two cranes to work simultaneously; the lifting of the massive 108 meter diameter rotor requires great skill and is a really impressive manoeuvre to watch,” says Leo Quinn, Project Manager of Loeriesfontein wind farm. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Africans are relying on European experience – in this case Siemens will erect their own turbines.

These are numbers which are still far too huge for Chad. There the Amdjarass wind farm is currently being constructed. French company Vergnet, which specializes in bringing wind energy to remote locations, has set up four of its 275 kilowatt turbines in Amdjarass in February. The small town is to be the first place in Chad to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy by the end of the year. Therefore, an energy storage facility and two generators are currently set up and the transmission cable is laid out.

Three years of research were put into the preparation of the project. The turbines, which have a combined capacity of just 1.1 MW, will allow for the diesel generators which have supplied the city with electricity so far, to be switched off more often. In the future, clean wind energy will be responsible for the population's secure and stable energy supply.

This makes the residents of Amdjarass a minority in the country: Of the nearly 13 million residents of Chad more than 80 percent live in absolute poverty and not even every second person has access to clean water. Across the country, which is the 20th biggest in the world, there are only 267 kilometers of paved roads. On of the reasons why construction of large wind or solar farms lies far in the future – apart from the politically unstable situation with neighbors like Libya or Sudan.

So Africa remains a continent of contrasts in relation to energy supply. Some countries are already on the right track and can avoid mistakes of the industrialized nations with their focus on fossil fuels. But it is still a long way to ensure all people in Africa have access to power supply at all.

 

Last image: Location of Chad in Africa (Created by TUBS - CC BY-SA 3.0)

Author:
Katrin Radtke
Email:
kr@windfair.net
Keywords:
Africa, South Africa, Chad, Siemens, Vergnet, turbines, MW, wind farm, onshore, infrastructure



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