Mainstream starts work on €140m SA windfarm
Irish energy firm Mainstream Renewable Power has started construction on an 80MW windfarm in South Africa worth almost €140m.
The windfarm, which is expected to be operational by the middle of next year, will cost about €137m to develop. It is being built in Noupoort, in South Africa's Northern Cape province.
The project will be developed through Mainstream's joint investment platform Lakela Power. The $1.9bn investment vehicle, established earlier this year, aims to develop between 700 and 900MW of projects across Africa by 2018. It is a joint venture with UK-listed private equity group Actis, who have a 60pc stake.
Other firms involved in the Northern Cape development include South Africa investment firm Thebe Investment Corporation and local renewable design and operating company Genesis Eco Energy.
Once completed, the wind park will be able to generate 305,000 MW hours of electricity per year. A development that consumes one MW of energy per operating hour uses one MW hour of energy.
Dublin-based Mainstream, which is headed up by former Airtricity founder Eddie O'Connor, is building two other wind parks in the same South African province, namely the 140MW Khobab and 140MW Loeriesfontein 2 ventures. The projects represent a combined investment of more than €500m.
A spokesman for Mainstream said: "Construction has now started on all three projects and is progressing fast on Noupoort. It is expected to reach commercial operation around the middle of next year, [but] the other two probably won't be finished until the end of 2017."
The move comes after it was announced last week that Mainstream was awarded preferred bidder status by the Department of Energy in South Africa for two more large-scale wind energy projects with a total generation capacity of 250MW.
The award was made under the fourth round of the South African Government's Renewable Energy Procurement Programme and the two wind farms represent an investment of approximately €426m. The date for financial close has not yet been released by the Department of Energy.
Mainstream has been awarded a total of 848 MW of wind and solar projects under the programme since the first award in 2011, more than any other developer.
Last year the firm delivered three wind and solar facilities into commercial operation in South Africa under the first round of the programme.