South African power utility Eskom said on Monday its first large-scale renewable energy plant, the 100 megawatt Sere Wind Farm, was fully operational and injecting much-needed electricity into the constrained grid.
The 46-turbine plant in South Africa’s Western Cape is producing enough electricity to power 124,000 homes but will do little to plug a shortage that has pushed the state-owned company into implementing near-daily power cuts.
Eskom is also developing another 100 MW from concentrating solar power in the Northern Cape, it said in a statement.
The company has an installed generating capacity of about 42,000 MW, but its normal capacity is around 32,000 MW because some of its plants are usually under maintenance at any one time. The utility often switches off as much as 3,000 MW a day to keep the grid from collapsing under too much demand.
Africa’s most industrialised economy relies almost entirely on dated coal generators that are in constant need of maintenance and has roped in independent producers to set up renewable energy plants to reduce that dependence.
South Africa’s energy minister said last week a total of 79 renewable energy projects with a capacity of 5,243 MW have been approved for construction at a cost of 168 billion rand ($14.05 billion).