Tsitsikamma Community Wind Farm draws Danish royal attention
The Tsitsikamma Community Wind Farm (TCWF) in the Eastern Cape, recently hosted His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Denmark at its AmaMfengu project site which boasts dozens of Vestas turbines originating from Denmark.
The royal visit is testament to the hard work of the project owners and developers in getting the project off the ground. The 95.3 MW wind farm was one of Cennergi’s successful bids in 2012 in South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer’s Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) and is the brainchild of the late Mike Msizi, who hailed from the small Wittekleibosch community where the wind farm is now being built. Cennergi owns 75% of the project, Watt Energy and the Tsitsikamma Community Development Trust own 25%.
HRH The Crown Prince visited South Africa accompanied by a Danish business delegation who were primarily interested in trade relations with SA across three sectors: energy efficiency and renewable energy (wind and solar); water management and water technologies; food, livestock, machinery and biogas. The visit provided an excellent opportunity to create new business and exports between the two nations.
The TCWF project would not be in existence today were it not for the role that the Danish government played in bringing alive the dream of Msizi, a Mfengu man who found himself in exile in Denmark during apartheid, where turbines are a common site. It was Msizi’s goal to see a wind farm erected on the site of the repatriated AmaMfengu land (they were forcibly removed in the 1970s under John Vorster’s government). Sadly, Msizi died in a tragic car accident in 2012 before he could see the realisation of his vision.
Cennergi CEO, Thomas Garner, shared memories with the Danish delegation and local dignitaries of the inspiring TCWF story.
“It was 30 November 2009. Mike Msizi organised a function at Wittekleibosch where Watt Energy (Mike’s company), Exxaro, Vestas, DONG Energy, IFU, EKF and the Danish Embassy signed the agreement for the development of the first community wind farm in South Africa,” said Garner.
The first turbines arrived at the Port of Coega on 14 August 2014 and all 31 turbines are expected to be erected by Christmas. The project is on track for its Commercial Operation Date of March 2016.
“I want to thank the Danish Government for supporting this programme through various interventions like the Wind Atlas. I want to give thanks to His Royal Highness as the highest representative of Denmark present; for the fact that they gave Mike Msizi a home in Denmark when he was in exile, that they gave him the fertile ground to dream and the opportunity to say: “Just Imagine, us building a wind farm one day on Wittekleibosch,” said Garner.
Garner also acknowledged the role that the South African government, the Danish turbine supplier, Vestas and their lenders had played in bringing to life the community wind farm, which is now benefitting the greater Tsitsikamma community.
After the COD deadline is reached, there are exciting developments ahead for the Tsitsikamma community, says Garner. “After COD, the Project will focus on its Social Economic Development (SED) and Enterprise Development (ED) commitments to the Department of Energy (DoE) in terms of the 50 km radius. I have already been in contact with Danish and local companies to assist us in creating sustainable micro-enterprises for the community. As the Project, we will ensure this becomes a community that will produce knowledgeable young people that will, like Mike Msizi, change the future of the individuals coming from this community. This will include interventions in education, agriculture, tourism and many other areas of economic growth.”
The visit was attended by a number of local and international dignitaries including Minister of Growth and Business Development, Troels Poulsen; the Ambassador of Denmark in South Africa, Trine Rask Thygesen; the Mayor of Koukamma Municipality, Sam Vuso; Vestas Vice-President, Nils de Baar; Koukamma Ward Councillor, Nomawabo Mntambo; Director of Energy for the Eastern Cape Authorities, Mr. Alistair McMaster; Florence Msizi, TCWF Director and wife of the late Mike Msizi; TCWF Director, Doreen Njenje; Chairman of the Tsitsikamma Development Trust, Zilindile Blouw and Vice Chairman of the Tsitsikamma Development Trust, Mbulelo Khoza.
South Africa is the 33rd largest economy in the world and a constantly growing market for Danish exporters. With roughly 15 million people that have the same buying power as the average Dane, it is the largest market for Denmark in Africa – and it is the gateway into Sub-Saharan Africa. The South African market holds a lot of potential for Danish companies.
The visit was an excellent opportunity to create new business and exports. Companies new to the South African market were given the chance to evaluate the market potential and establish business contacts, and companies with South African experience were able to nurture existing business partners and pursue new market opportunities. The visit was also a valuable networking opportunity for South African and Danish companies alike.
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