The Enel Group’s South African renewable energy subsidiary, Enel Green Power RSA (EGP RSA), has achieved commercial operation on its 140 MW Nxuba wind farm in the Eastern Cape. Construction of the project involved an investment of 200 million euros. The new facility is expected to generate 460 GWh of energy annually.

Salvatore Bernabei, CEO of Enel Green Power said, “This important milestone confirms EGP’s commitment to South Africa and cements our position as the leading renewable energy independent power producer in the country. We are continuing to make investments to further diversify the generation mix, and promoting a sustainable and inclusive energy transition, creating shared value for our stakeholders.”

140 MW Nxuba wind farm comes on stream

Now operational, Nxuba wind farm in the Eastern Cape is expected to generate 460 GWh of energy annually.

Producing clean, renewable energy, the Nxuba wind farm will obviate the emission of about 460 000 tons of CO2 annually. It will be supported by a 20-year power supply agreement with the South African energy utility Eskom, as part of the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). In its fourth round in April 2015 the REIPPPP awarded a total of five wind projects for 700 MW to the Enel Group.

The Eastern Cape is well suited for wind generation, largely due to the strong wind currents along the province’s coastline between Cookhouse and the western border of Lesotho. The region also has the advantage that it is close to major grid connections, making it convenient to feed energy into South Africa’s national electricity grid.

With the Nxuba wind farm now online, EGP RSA has eight operational projects in the country, with an overall installed capacity of more than 650 MW. In the Eastern Cape, in addition to Nxuba, EGP RSA has two other wind farms in operation: Nojoli (88 MW) and Gibson Bay (111 MW). In the Northern Cape, the company has solar plants Upington (10 MW) and Adams (82.5 MW). Additional solar plants include Pulida (82.5 MW) in the Free State, Tom Burke (66 MW) in Limpopo, and Paleishuewel (82.5 MW) in the Western Cape. Two projects, Garob in the Northern Cape and Oyster Bay in the Eastern Cape, will commence full operation in the second quarter of 2021, and another two, Karusa and Soetwater in the Karoo Hoogland, in the fourth quarter of 2021, each with an installed capacity of 140 MW.

The construction of the Nxuba wind farm involved a significant skills transfer element, with EGP RSA enlisting the services of small and medium enterprises from the local Blue Crane Route and Raymond Mhlaba municipalities to assist on the project. Additionally, the concrete tower sections were manufactured locally in the town of Somerset East.

The development also involved the deployment of digital tools to perform on-site quality checks and the smart tracking of wind turbine components. Using such innovative solutions has allowed for more reliable and precise data collection, improving the overall quality of work and streamlining communications between workers on- and off-site. 

During the construction of the facility, rigorous safety protocols were implemented, in light of the ongoing pandemic and in line with the indications provided by health authorities, with the aim to ensure the necessary protection for the workers involved as well as the communities where the wind farm is located. Enel Green Power established strict guidelines for travel, which include quarantine when workers move to cities outside the construction site region, increased sanitisation of facilities, vehicles and environments on the construction site, and other measures to ensure safe work practices. Teams and operations were structured to maintain social distancing and the company carried out testing campaigns on all employees working on the site.

With Nxuba now operational – thanks in part to the support of Eskom in the commissioning of the facility – the new wind farm consolidates EGP RSA’s position as the leading renewable energy independent power producer in South Africa and demonstrates its commitment to providing sustainable and clean energy to the country. 

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