Considering the draft amendments to the Electricity Regulations on New Generation Capacity, this Waainek Wind Farm case study may provide some interesting insights.

Waainek Wind Farm, close to Grahamstown, is unique in that is one of the very few renewable energy projects in South Africa that is connected directly to a Municipal network. It has a collaborative working relationship that benefits both EDF Renewables and the Makana Municipality.

EDF Renewables (formerly InnoWind) and the Makana Municipality entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on the development of Waainek Wind Farm. All the power generated by Waainek is wheeled through the Makana network to reach Eskom’s Albany Eskom substation on the Eastern side of Makhanda.

Waainek Wind Farm delivered 16,500 MWh of free early energy to the Municipality generated before COD and made improvements to the old Grahamstown Sub-station, including refurbishment of the earthing system; refurbished pre-identified sections of 66kV line linking the Sugarloaf, Summit and Grahamstown municipal substations; and compiled an extensive protection study of the Makana municipal grid.

Waainek Wind Farm acts as a capacitor bank, which further improves the power quality on the municipal grid by reducing voltage fluctuations; and is a reliable source of green energy capable of feeding the whole of Grahamstown when operating at full capacity. The wind farm provides financial compensation to the municipality, for Use-of-System – these funds are ring-fenced and used for upgrades to the municipal network.

Also, the wind farm mitigates the impact of load shedding on the municipality since the IPP has reached an agreement with Eskom that when the wind farm is generating above a certain threshold the municipal grid connection to Eskom is maintained.

As a result of the collaboration work done on Waainek Wind Farm, EDF Renewables and the Makana Municipality have developed a solid working relationship which is mutually beneficial. It is in this context that EDF Renewables and the Municipality have partnered on the development of a second wind farm project named Albany which is located at the Eastern side of Makhanda.

Unlike Waainek, the proposed Albany Wind Farm will not be connecting to the municipal network, however, the project is partially located on farms owned by the Municipality.  As such, the Albany Wind Farm, if successful, would be the first wind farm to be built on municipal land with commonage conditions.

Historically disadvantaged farmers from Makhanda were given land rights on the municipal properties for agricultural use. Should the project be successful, the Albany Wind Farm will be supporting the implementation of projects aimed at upscaling the cattle grazing activities on the properties.

EDF sees the potential for a lot more mutually beneficial public/private collaborations for the benefit of municipalities, their residents and the project developers. The company has already started to build a similar relationship with another local municipality.

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