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South Africa's first commercial wind farm

(14 July 2005) Source: BuaNews

Environmental Affairs Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has turned down an appeal against the proposed development of a commercial wind farm near Darling in the Western Cape. Martin Halvorsen, a private landowner, had submitted the appeal citing concerns regarding the potential impact of birds. He also said no other alternative sites had been investigated, which made the environmental impact assessment process "flawed".

However, the Minister said the decision to uphold the original approval made in February this year had paved the way for the construction of South Africa's first-ever renewable energy power-generating facility to be developed by a private company, which will feed into the national power network. "South Africa is actively targeting the greater use of renewable and zero or low-carbon sources of energy generation," he said.

The proposed development will entail the erection of four Danish supplied wind turbines with a total power output of about 5.2 mega-watts. These will be located on the farm Windhoek 12 km northwest of Darling and approximately 2 km north of the road to Yzerfontein on the West Coast. The wind farm will be situated below the crest of Moedmaag Hill, a freestanding hill in the north-eastern corner of the site and at 252m above sea level.

"Our climate change response strategy requires us to examine all practical alternatives to limit and reduce our emissions of Greenhouse gasses and this is a very important first step in our endeavours towards cleaner production," he said. He said the Darling Wind Farm would be of special significance, given the country's commitments to expand the use of renewable energy as a key measure to combat climate change.

He explained that although the initial development would be a relatively small addition to the national power generation capacity, it was an extremely important pilot project to demonstrate the economic sustainability of powering the country's rapidly growing economy with clean energy.

"Testing and demonstrating the feasibility of small, decentralised and clean power generation facilities is important as part of our efforts to create jobs and eradicate poverty through the creation of SMME opportunities," he said.