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BioTherm’s Excelsior Wind Energy Facility starts commercial operations

This is the third BioTherm renewable energy IPP project to connect to South Africa’s national grid within a calendar.

BioTherm’s wind energy facility located in the Western Cape province of South Africa, the Excelsior wind farm has started commercial operations. The 33MW wind energy facility was backed by UK based emerging market investor Actis. The Project was awarded under Round 4 of the South African Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement program (REIPPP). 

Power produced by the wind energy facility will be sold to state owned utility Eskom under a 20 year power purchase agreement (PPA).

The completion of the Excelsior project at the end of 2020 marked the third BioTherm renewable energy IPP project to connect to South Africa’s national grid within a calendar. The company connected the Golden Valley Wind facility to the grid before the end of 2020 as well. BioTherm now boasts a combined generating capacity of 165MW of the country’s renewable energy production.

“We ended 2020 on a high note, having led three IPPs to commercial operations, while having connected our fourth project to the grid expecting commercial operation in the first quarter of this year, which will add another 120 MW to our generating capacity in South Africa,” says BioTherm Energy CEO Robert Skjodt.

Technical specs of the the Excelsior Wind Energy Facility

Excelsior wind farm achieved commercial operations on December 23, adding to the 132 MW of combined capacity of the solar plants Aggeneys and Konkoonsies II earlier in the year.

The facility, which has a capacity of 33 MW, consists of 13 turbines with a capacity of 2.5 MW. Excelsior has a direct connection to the Vryheid substation, via an on-site substation and a dedicated 132 kV power line. It will feed over 132GWh of renewable power into the national grid which will be enough to power an estimated 35 000 South African homes per annum.

Excelsior wind farm was built on 2 300 ha of land in Swellendam, an area known as one of the largest agricultural producing areas in the country. By the very nature of wind power, over 90% of the land on the site will continue to yield agricultural crops as well as sustain livestock farming.

Socio-economic benefits of the project

Construction of the project commenced two years ago and about 380 jobs were created. The majority of employees came from its surrounding beneficiary communities within the Overberg Municipality. These very same communities stand to benefit from the economic development programmes, through the 20-year operations period of the plant.

The economic development initiatives will include education skills development, and environmental stewardship amongst others.

A number of early spend programmes were implemented during construction, they focused on the provision of secondary school study guides across various subjects for Grades 8 to 12. This is in addition to the various Covid-19 relief programmes, aimed at alleviating the impact of the pandemic on local communities.

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