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Quantifying the performance of wind farms in South Africa.

In the last decade, South Africa has been one of the fastest growing markets for wind energy in the world. The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) has resulted in over 2 GW of installed capacity being connected to the grid.

Extracting key learnings from the data

The first round of these projects achieved commercial operation in 2014 and have now all been operating for over 3 years. The REIPPPP has been a success and LR's Energy Resource experts feel that now is the perfect time to study how well those first projects have performed in generating energy. 

David Pullinger, Energy Resource Services technical lead explains, "This study will allow for benchmarking of South African projects against not only each other but also results from other international studies. Working with six owners of Round 1 projects who have agreed to share their wind farm data with us, we are performing in depth analysis using our experience in both operational yield assessment and wind resource to evaluate the performance of each project and identify any discrepancies with pre-construction predictions."

Is the team expecting to find big differences between pre-construction and actual performance? Not necessarily, says Pullinger: "We regularly perform similar validation of our approaches and have already performed operational yield studies in South Africa. These have shown that yields from our pre-construction assessments were broadly correct. That said, it is worth noting that, following construction of Round 1, South Africa experienced a period of very low wind speed – resulting in low yields. Whilst this was unfortunate for project owners and investors, it was captured within the variability element of those pre-construction assessments." 

Bar chart
Figure 1: Example benchmarking plot showing each project (anonymised) against global benchmark.
What's next?

In November 2018,  the project team will publish three papers sharing the results with stakeholders:

  1. A benchmarking study with an anonymous comparison of the studied sites against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs);
  2. Technical review of wind resource assessment methodologies including identification of areas for improvement;
  3. A non-technical summary for investors to understand the impact of the work undertaken on the risk associated with wind farm investments.

Pullinger concludes, "This study is an important and unique opportunity to cover a new market in great depth which has never been achieved before. South Africa is a developing market with huge potential and this study will help guide one of the cornerstones of project development – wind resource – as it matures."

If you would like to be kept informed of the results of the study or discuss the work with our team please get in touch.

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