Loeriesfontein Wind Farm Connects Mobile Transformer for Early Grid Connection

Loeriesfontein Wind Farm, in the Northern Cape, has been making use of a mobile transformer to allow for an early connection to the grid for commissioning of the turbines, prior to the energisation of the Helios substation, which is the permanent grid connection.

“The mobile transformer will do two things, firstly, it will provide a temporary supply to the project, to mitigate the risk that Eskom transmission is delayed with energisation of Helios. Secondly, it will allow for early grid code testing of Loeriesfontein Wind Farm, which will ultimately increase the chances of early operations, ahead of the Commercial Operations Date.

“We have worked very closely with Eskom to supply and operate the mobile transformer, which is typically used by the Utility to temporarily connect to substations during maintenance or unplanned shutdowns to allow continued use of substations. Mobile transformers are not normally used to connect Wind Farms to the distribution system,” explained Kevin Foster, Country Construction Manager for Mainstream Renewable Power.

The Helios substation energisation is on track for 15 August 2017, at which point the Loeriesfontein Wind Farm will be able to commence with final grid code testing prior to commercial operations.

CONCO is responsible for the electrical component of the balance of plant works, including the engineering, procurement and construction of the medium voltage collector system, substation, overhead line connection and the temporary transformer.

How the transformer fits into the plant:

Each wind turbine is connected to a step-up transformer which boosts the generating output of the wind turbine generator from 690 V to 33 kV. These transformers are located at the base of the wind turbine. From here the cables throughout the wind farm bring the 33 kV current from the step up transformers to convene at the substation where the main transformer is situated. The main transformer at the substation increases the voltage further from 33 kV to 132 kV – the voltage required to transfer the power to Eskom.

The Loeriesfontein and Khobab Wind Farms are part of the South African Government’s Round 3 Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP) and are managed both in terms of construction and operations by Mainstream Renewable Power South Africa. The Loeriesfontein and Khobab Wind Farms, are expected to be operational by December 2017.

Loeriesfontein and Khobab Wind Farm are owned by a consortium dedicated to providing clean, renewable energy to the people of South Africa:

  • Lekela Power is a pan-African renewable energy generation platform delivering utility scale wind and solar power into commercial operations in Africa. Lekela is owned 60% by Actis, the leading growth markets energy investor (US$13bn funds raised across three asset classes since inception) and 40% by a consortium led by Mainstream Renewable Power (over 9,000MW in development, construction and operations across five continents) which includes investors such as the IFC and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
  • Khobab Community Trust & Loeriesfontein Community Trust: Established by the project company with the objective of carrying out public benefit activities to benefit the local community in the areas of enterprise development, education and health.
  • Thebe Investment Corporation: one of South Africa’s most established broad based BEE Investment management companies and leading investor in the Energy & Resources sector (advised by Bridge Capital).
  • The IDEAS Managed Fund, a policy product of Old Mutual Life Assurance Company Limited, is a fund for institutional investors that invests in transport (roads and railways), government accommodation (public private partnerships), energy (gas pipelines and storage), thermal power generation (gas) and renewable energy (solar, wind and hydro projects). While infrastructure investments are generally vital for economic growth and have tangible social and environmental impacts, the fund targets investments with the potential to deliver long-term returns well above inflation, while seeking to simultaneously meet social and environmental objectives.
  • The IDEAS Managed Fund is managed by African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), a subsidiary of Old Mutual Alternative Investments (OMAI).
  • Futuregrowth Asset Management is a fixed interest investment company that protects and grows around R170 billion of clients’ assets across the full scope of interest-bearing products, and a range of development funds, in a way that has a positive financial, economic and social impact on investors, communities and the country as a whole.
  • Genesis Eco-Energy in partnership with Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital. Genesis Eco Energy is a pioneering South African renewable energy developer which has been active in South Africa since 2001. Lereko Metier Sustainable Capital is a resource efficiency private equity fund that has garnered additional support of two of its investors DEG (The German Development Bank) and FMO (The Dutch Development Bank) in the investment across the Mainstream portfolio.