Infrastructure equity investment manager African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM) is proud to have played a key role in the completion of the Cookhouse wind farm, in the Eastern Cape, as one of the funders of the project, says AIIM CEO Jurie Swart.
“We are pleased to have played a part in making Cookhouse, the largest wind farm in Africa, a reality. Despite some unexpected challenges, all project costs were kept within budget.”
“The excellent cooperation of contractors, subcontractors, shareholders, lenders and the utility offtaker, underpinned by a strong contractual framework governing these relationships, has supported the realisation of the project,” says Cookhouse wind farm CEO Jannie Retief.
He adds that construction started in February 2013 and the wind farm is expected to start commercial operations before the end of the year, after all the required performance tests have been completed.
The project has been largely financed by South African institutions, through an investment consortium comprising infrastructure equity fund Infrastructural, Developmental and Environmental Assets Managed Fund, AFPOC, infrastructure and infrastructure-related assets funder Africa Infrastructure Investment Fund 2, investor in renewable projects Apollo Investment Partnership II and the Cookhouse Community Trust, says Retief.
He says the Cookhouse wind farm is 25%-owned by the local community through the Cookhouse Wind Farm Community Trust, “which is five times the governmental target for local community ownership of wind farms”.
Cookhouse wind farm management, together with the developer of the wind farm, African Clean Energy Developments, was responsible for completing the process of establishing the community trust, which will ensure that local development projects will benefit from dividends over the 20-year project life, says Retief.
The Cookhouse wind farm project entailed installing 66 turbines, each 80 m tall, with 44 m-long blades. The wind-generating capacity of the blades are 138.6 MW, says Retief, adding that the site required the construction of 36 km of roads and 55 km of cable trenching.
He says the wind farm will produce clean energy under a 20-year power purchase agreement with State-owned power utility Eskom.
“This wind farm is also the first project in Round 1 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme to connect to the transmission network.”
The Cookhouse wind farm was one of the first large-scale wind farms to be constructed in South Africa. Therefore, to deal with the lack of experience in building wind farms, an international management team, with experience in the development and construction of wind farm facilities in Europe, was enlisted to manage the project, concludes Retief.