22 June 2015
BY: TERENCE CREAMER CREAMER MEDIA EDITOR
The 33 MW Wesley-Ciskei wind project, selected recently as part of the enlarged fourth bid window under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), will be the first to be developed in partnership with land owners and farmers in the former Ciskei Homeland area of the Eastern Cape.
In early June, the Department of Energy (DoE) extended the allocation to a further 13 solar photovoltaic and wind projects with a collective nameplate capacity of 1 084 MW. The allocation was additional to the 13 round-four projects selected in April with a combined capacity of 1 121 MW.
The Wesley-Ciskei project will be jointly developed by not-for-profit organisation Just Energy, initially established by the Bank of America Foundation and Oxfam, and InnoWind, a subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles, of France.
The project, which is expected to be operational towards the end of 2017, will feature ten wind turbines. InnoWind CEO Martin Webb says it will be the first REIPPPP project developed on community land in a former Homeland, which could “open the door to more renewable-energy projects in some of the less economically developed rural areas”.
Just Energy CEO Neil Townsend adds that the project also represents the first time that the organisation’s “unique” business model will be deployed – the model is designed to ensure that a substantial portion of project revenues are re-invested back into equity for the local community.
“We started Just Energy with the belief that if clean energy projects were to be distributed around the country, then there was a fantastic opportunity for low-income communities to be involved in the ownership of those projects, so that some of the income created would stay in the local economy and help to build those communities,” Townsend explained.
He, therefore, applauds the recognition offered under the REIPPPP for projects with high local ownership, while expressing the hope that the programme will evolve in a way that ensures higher levels of “real project ownership by low-income communities”.