Lekela, the renewable power-generation company that delivers utility-scale projects across Africa, today marked another important milestone when its Perdekraal East windfarm began commercial operations.
The Perdekraal East windfarm will add 110MW to South Africa’s national grid. It becomes the first wind farm from Round 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme to begin commercial operations. Lekela’s first wind farm in South Africa, Noupoort, was likewise the first project from Round 3 to reach commercial operation, back in 2016.
Situated in the Witzenberg Municipality near Matjiesfontien in the Western Cape, Perdekraal East has 48 turbines generating approximately 360 GWh of energy each year, enough to supply power for 111 000 South African homes. It has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Eskom. Lekela co-owns the project with the local community which has a shareholding though a community trust.
Perdekraal East is one of the company’s eight projects on the continent, with four in operation in South Africa, and a further four under construction or development in South Africa, Senegal, Ghana and Egypt. In total, Lekela has more than 1000MW in operation or under construction in its African portfolio.
Lekela Power CEO, Chris Antonopoulos, says: “Today is a significant moment. Every renewable project which reaches completion means South Africa gains more advantage from its abundant sustainable resources. More vital power flows into the national grid with all the concomitant benefits for the country and its citizens. For Lekela, it’s as important that the people who live here will share in the success of this project.
“Starting commercial operation is the culmination of a massive, coordinated effort. We owe a huge thanks to all the workers and contractors as well as the local manufacturers who provided many of the components, including the steel towers and the transformers. As always we’re very grateful for all the support we received from Eskom.”
The facility will eliminate approximately 410 000 tons of CO2 emissions annually compared to traditional fossil-fuel power-plants, he notes.
The 140MW Kangnas windfarm in the Northern Cape will reach its commercial operations date later in the year. It will use 61 turbines, each producing 2.3MW to add around another 500 GWh each year of clean, economic and renewable energy to the national grid.
Perdekraal East and Kangnas will join Lekela Power’s three other South African operations already in operation: its 80MW Noupoort, 140MW Loeriesfontein 2, and 140MW Khobab windfarms, all in the Northern Cape.
Lekela is a significant, long-term investor in South Africa’s renewable energy sector. To date it has committed R420 million of a total investment of R1,8 billion.
The wider, African operation comprises the 250MW West Bakr Wind project in Egypt’s Gulf of Suez, and the 158MW facility in Taiba N’Diaye, Senegal.
“All Lekela’s projects actively support their local communities. This includes providing job opportunities, sourcing from the local economy and investing in community projects. Over the course of construction over 400 people from local communities secured employment on the wind farm”,Chris Antonopoulos continues.
In South Africa, Lekela’s windfarms are co-owned by reputable South African investors as well as local community trusts. Wherever feasible, Lekela continues to drive an increase in the local content in its projects. This is in line with the company’s focus on creating long-term value for the communities where it operates.
“We want to make a positive impact that lasts for generations in these communities. Beyond the provision of renewable power and employment, we also focus on promoting education, enterprise and environmental initiatives.”
“Most recently in response to Covid-19, we have been involved in a variety of humanitarian interventions to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on the local community focusing on procurement and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment, hygiene supplies as well as supporting the most vulnerable households in the community”, Chris Antonopoulos concludes.