Chinese firm Longyuan pledges to help solve SA energy problem
A Chinese firm's multibillion-dollar investment in wind energy is expected to help companies in the Northern Cape and, eventually, South Africa avoid power disruptions as Africa's second largest economy continues to suffer from an electricity crisis.
Longyuan South Africa Renewables is behind the project, which has so far invested $273.2 million in wind energy solutions in De Aar.
This, it claims, is already putting thousands of megawatts into the national grid, which is managed by the struggling national power utility, Eskom.
In an exclusive interview with ITWeb Africa, Longyuan South Africa Renewables' safety production and technology department manager, Sheng Bin, stated that wind technology was a game changer for South Africa's electrical load shedding crises.
"I am confident that this production rate can be sustained moving forward," he went on to say.
As a result, he believes the project in Northern Cape Town will generate 7.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity over the next decade.
According to energy researchers, in order to avoid worsening power outages, South Africa must upgrade or build new energy infrastructure, seek alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, and green energy efficiency technologies aimed at reducing demand, and outsource to independent power producers.
Longyuan South Africa Renewables, which won the bids for the De Aar 1 and De Aar 2 (North) wind power projects at the end of 2013, began construction on the wind energy projects in late 2015, before the two projects passed the grid connection tests that enabled early generation.
Bin stated that his organisation is looking forward to new energy options in order to increase the power supply to Eskom.
"We are keen on seeking opportunities to expand our renewable energy projects in South Africa," he said.
Entrepreneurs interviewed in the North West and Northern Cape regions commended the company’s wind and solar energy programmes.
"Small businesses here are forced to adjust operating hours to ensure they have accommodated the load shedding schedules," stated Kimberley entrepreneur Johannes Van Wyk.
"These power outages are causing us to lose revenue, and the worst thing is that we are unable to plan adequately. Load shedding has made our businesses vulnerable to robbery and theft owing to darkness. We feel that Chinese wind and solar investment is a timely solution.
Van Wyk also lamented the loss of internet connectivity, disruptions to payment processing, and outdated infrastructure.
Jacobus Coetzee, a farmer in De Aar, stated, "The Chinese investments in wind and solar energy will help avert the rolling blackouts."
Hendrik Louw, a Potchefstroom entrepreneur, stated, "I strongly believe that if independent power producers had not supported national power utility Eskom, particularly Chinese investments in wind and solar energy, the country's economy would have collapsed." We hope for the best as new wind and solar energy expand."