Long-established oil and gas companies are under attack from renewable sources — principally wind, solar and biofuels — which are backed by governments in all the world’s leading economies, and from smaller, nimbler companies. Picture: DAVID MACGREGOR
Renewable energy is seen as crucial to easing pressure on the electricity grid. Picture: DAVID MACGREGOR

MAINSTREAM Renewable Power, an international developer awarded more megawatts than any other under the government’s renewable energy procurement programme, says its South African wind farms will start producing electricity within six months.

The three wind farms in the Northern Cape represent a combined investment of $760m and will generate 360MW. They are under construction, with the first completed plant to start commercial operation in July.

Renewable energy is seen as crucial to easing pressure on the electricity grid. About 4% of SA’s 43,000MW of generating capacity comes from renewable sources. The government aims to achieve 6,000MW by 2020.

Mainstream SA has set up a consortium to deliver wind and solar plants to the market. It includes Thebe Investment Corporation, Siemens Energy and Futuregrowth Asset Management. Mainstream is a major participant in the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

It was awarded eight projects with a combined capacity of nearly 850MW, most recently the 140MW Kangnas wind farm (Northern Cape) and 110MW Perdekraal East wind farm (Western Cape), which are expected to reach financial closure later this year.

Debt has been arranged and underwritten by Barclays and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. A Murray & Roberts and Conco consortium is the construction contractor, and Siemens Wind Power is supplying and installing the wind turbine.

Mainstream’s director of onshore procurement, construction and operations, Barry Lynch, said this week: "We (will) continue our focus on growth markets globally, where we are delivering large quantities of dependable, renewable energy at a price which undercuts new fossil fuel-generation. In addition, we are bringing these power plants into commercial operation faster than coal-fired plants."