China-Africa Cooperation Supports Africa’s Transition to Green Energy
Wind farms uninterruptedly provide electricity
In De Aar, central South Africa, long and white blades on high towers were rotating like fans on top of the mountain.
Companies formed by China’s Longyuan Power through its South African subsidiary Longyuan South Africa Renewables (Longyuan SA), which holds 60 percent of shares, and its South African partners including South African renewable energy developer Mulilo Group, a community trust, Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) company installed 163 wind turbines in two phases of the De Aar wind power project, converting wind energy into power. The total investment of the projects stands at 500,000 South African rands (about 31,440 U.S. dollars).
The installed capacity of the project is 244.5 megawatts (MW), which can stably supply clean power of about 760 gigawatt hour (GWh) annually, equivalent to saving more than 200,000 metric tons of standard coal, reducing carbon dioxide emissions of 700,000 metric tons.
Since its operation in 2017, the project has been running in good condition and hasn’t experienced any interruption, said Sheng Bin, manager of Safety Production and Technology Department of Longyuan SA, who attributed the good operation to Chinese technology and a team of technicians.
The wind turbines manufactured by China Guodian Group use higher configuration among similar types of equipment and Chinese technology for improvement in line with the local conditions of South Africa. The technicians working on the project have been strictly selected to ensure quick resolution of problems, according to Sheng.
Longyuan SA won the tender in 2013 in the Bid Window 3 of Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) Program, which was established by the South African Department of Energy in conjunction with the National Treasury and the Development Bank of Southern Africa at the end of 2010 as one of South African government’s urgent interventions to enhance the country’s power generation capacity.
Its main objective is to secure private sector investment for the development of new electricity generation capacity, diversifying South Africa’s energy mix. It is also designed to contribute to broader national developmental objectives such as job creation and economic transformation primarily through the broadening of economic ownership.
According to Zhao Mingming, director of Longyuan SA, Longyuan actively responds to the South African government’s plan of developing renewable energy through bidding for the projects, practically providing South Africa with clean energy and extra electricity capacity.
“I’m really proud of working with the company that is basically in the direction of renewable energy. I see there is a need for it,” the project’s site manager Regardt van Tonder told Xinhua on the phase one site, stressing that it is necessary to improve on methods of electricity generation.
The 30-year-old also said such project promotes the relationship between the countries, creates jobs and enhances understanding of each other’s culture. “There are a lot of positives we can take from this,” he said.
Longyuan SA is also praised by different levels of the South African governments for fulfilling social responsibility in South Africa not only in De Aar but also in other parts of the country.
Hydropower plant adds mega capacity with green design
In the midwestern district of Kiryandongo, Uganda, workers from Sinohydro Corporation were busily completing the final stage work of Karuma Hydro Power Plant, along the Nile River.
Karuma Hydro Power Plant, with 85 percent financed by the Export-Import Bank (EXIM) of China, including soft loan, and 15 percent financed by the Ugandan government, will be the largest power-generating installation in the east African country when completed with the capacity of 600 MW.
The plant is expected to generate 4 billion Kilowatt hours of electricity annually and provide over 200 million dollars in revenue to the government, which is close to 1 percent of Uganda’s current gross domestic product.
When compared with other conventional energy, hydropower is low-cost and easier to shift peak load, which is conducive to promoting utilization of water resources as well as social and economic benefits, said Li Ji, deputy general manager of the project.
Due to the stable water resources provided by Nile River, the power plant will be able to have a continuous and stable ability of generating and supplying electricity, he said.
Generating and using clean energy is a key area of Uganda’s sustainable development and the country is pushing for increased uptake of renewable energy, said Mary Goretti Kitutu, former minister of energy and mineral development. Uganda heavily relies on hydropower generation, and its total generation capacity would reach 2,000 MW once the Karuma Hydropower Plant comes online, according to her.
The 1.7-billion-dollar project had the environment protection fully considered from the design to the actual construction, as it is constructed in an environmentally-sensitive area, the Murchison Falls National Park, which has rich flora and fauna.
A bigger part of the power plant was built underground to limit the footprints on the surface and the structures on the surface have also been designed and constructed in a way to conserve the environment.
The dam includes channels for fish, which allows them to migrate, said Li, adding that the project is fenced to avoid hurting animals during construction while preserving the passage for hippos to find food.
“We hope to promote the development of Uganda, while at the same time protecting the environment of Uganda as much as possible,” he said.
Kenya’s partner in realizing potential for solar power
Official figures showed that the installed capacity of solar power in Kenya is more than 100 MW, while China-financed Garissa Solar accounts for 50 MW.
Located in northern Kenya’s Garissa County, it is the largest grid-connected solar power plant in East and Central Africa. The power plant, designed and built by China Jiangxi Corporation for International Economic and Technical Co-operation (CJIC) in conjunction with Kenya’s Rural Energy Authority (REA), was launched in 2019 and has been connected to the national grid.
According to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Garissa solar plant puts Kenya on the path of achieving green energy sufficiency and adds to Kenya’s rich profile as the center of green energy generation in Africa. It is part of a broad government renewable energy strategy to harvest 400 MW of electricity from the country’s vast solar resources, he said.
Kenya is rich in solar energy and has a wide prospect of solar energy development.
It is a prudent decision to tap into the region’s high solar intensity to support the national grid by constructing the solar plant, said Hannington Gochi, a renewable energy technician at REA.
“With steady power and low cost of electricity, Garissa can invest in industries and businesses,” said Gochi. He noted that more households and businesses have connected to the grid in the region, boosting artisans like those with welding workshops.
“I am so proud the project was successfully completed and has state-of-art equipment. We are hopeful it will serve Kenya for the next 25 years,” said Zhang Jian, country representative of CJIC in Kenya.
“China has been the leading partner in the continent’s desire to switch to solar and wind energy,” Kenya-based international relations scholar Cavince Adhere wrote in a commentary earlier this month.
According to Adhere, the forthcoming Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Dakar, Senegal, provides a platform to explore innovative ways, where the long-standing partners can reinvigorate the climate fight.