Waainek windfarms discussed at CSIR meeting

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Grahamstown's 66kV electrical substation is to be upgraded to accommodate a connection to the Waainek wind farm, due for completion by June 2015.

Grahamstown's 66kV electrical substation is to be upgraded to accommodate a connection to the Waainek wind farm, due for completion by June 2015.

A briefing for prospective tenders for this construction project took place on Tuesday 25 March, a day after a public meeting to discuss the Strategic Environmental Assessment for the roll-out of wind and solar energy in the Eastern Cape.

The meeting was hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

The CSIR and DEA identified eight geographical focus areas that suit best for effective and efficient wind energy projects.
A total of nine wind farms are found in South Africa, four of them in the Eastern Cape.

The Waainek Wind Park is one.

The project involves the construction and operation of a 24 MW wind farm on a plot of commercial farmland. Eight wind turbines are supposed to start providing energy from third quarter of 2014.

At the public meeting hosted by CSIR, various stakeholders raised their concerns and queries about the boundaries of the eight identified focus areas for wind farms.

Among the stakeholders were Eskom, WKN Windcurrent developers, local farmers, environmental consultants and private game farm owners and rangers.

The CSIR, Department of Water Affairs and Department of Environmental Affairs attempted to placate the many concerns voiced, especially by environmental consultants.

Previously raised concerns about the impact of the wind turbine structures on the bat and bird populations were countered by CSIR’s Scoping Assessments, which included analysing the effects the proposed wind farms would have on bat and bird population, as well as its effects on the heritage of the land and the socio-economic repercussions for locals.

In 2009 the government set out to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 34% by the year 2020 and aimed to reach 1,800 MW of wind energy capacity by 2015, thereby covering the demand for electricity of more than 240,000 South African households.

South Africa relies almost solely on coal power stations for its electricity supply; in an effort to combat global warming and improve the lingering electricity supply problems a change is necessary.

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