South Africa to get 500MW in wind power

In November 2006, the UK Foreign Ministry offset their 2004 air travel emissions via CERs from a 10MW South African wind farm developed by Genesis Eco-Energy. Now more than two years later, Mainstream Renewable Power has signed a joint venture deal for the development of 500MW of wind power in South Africa. Mainstream’s founders are the former senior management of Airtricity who sold their wind porfolio in the United States to E.ON. In January 2008, Southern and Scottish Energy purchased Airtricity for EUR 2.1 billion.

Modern wind energy plant in rural scenery.
Image via Wikipedia

Mainstream is now targeting the “next layer” of wind rich countries… in the developing world. In South Africa, Mainstream has teamed up with Genesis Eco-Energy. Genesis plans to begin construction on two wind farms totalling 70MW as early as next year. Developing 500MW of wind in South Africa will require more than $1.15 billion in project finance.

In addition to developing wind farms in Chile, Canada and Poland, Mainstream is also focusing on offshore wind in the UK.

What’s nice about this story is that the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) was the facilitator of the UK Foreign Ministry’s carbon offset, the revenues were critical to Genesis Eco-Energy developing their first ever wind farm. The experienced gained from this 10MW farm has provided Genesis the credibility to partner with Mainstream, a massive global wind player.

It shows that small initial steps taken to support developing world actors, can later catalyze large scale renewable energy development.

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