After connecting to the national energy grid in March last year, the 80 megawatt Kouga Wind Farm outside Oyster Bay has been recognised for its strides in environmental management good practice.
The wind farm, which has embarked on a host of sustainable community-orientated projects over the past year, has received an accolade at the recent Eastern Cape Top Green Organisation Awards, winning the category of Small Enterprises with Medium Environmental Impact (companies with less than 100 employees).
Environmental management good practice was adopted by the wind farm from its inception, said CEO Lukhanyo Ndube. During the development stage an extensive environmental impact assessment (EIA) process was undertaken which had a significant impact on the final design and operation of the wind farm. This good practice continued throughout the pre-construction and construction phase and is on-going during operation, he said.
“A significant component of this environmental input was linked to assessing and mitigating the impact on birds and bats,” said Ndube.
As part of this good practice the wind farm has partnered with environmental NGO, the St Francis Kromme Trust, the Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency, as well as other independent power producers in the area. This community-focused green project is called the Greater Kromme Stewardship (GKS) and is chaired by Ndube.
The initiative not only looks to help conserve large endangered terrestrial birds in the area, but also to help further the conservation of the incredible diversity of habitats and species that exist in the Kouga area in which the wind farm is situated, Ndube said.
“The purpose of the initiative is to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems in the Greater Kromme and Kouga regions using biodiversity stewardship,” said Ndube. “The objective of the initiative includes securing critical biodiversity elements in the region; improving regional knowledge regarding the value of biodiversity conservation; developing a plan for the improved protection and management of the protected areas; developing programmes for the protection of large terrestrial bird species in the region; developing socio-economic and green economy initiatives; and ensuring broad landscape-based management by landowners.”
Other aspects which drew the favourable attention of the Top Green judges include the wind farm’s various sustainable interventions. These include on-site solar power generation facilities; a natural water treatment facility; and the recycling of oil from the 32 wind farm turbines.
The green energy generation of the entire wind farm and the resulting negative carbon footprint was lauded by judges. The judging panel noted that the energy generated from wind has offset the emission of 385 585 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
According to Ndube, Kouga Wind Farm will inject approximately R800-million in economic development spending on the communities within a 50km radius of the project.
To date the wind farm has spent more than R8-million on health, childcare, education, sport, transport and infrastructure development in the neighbouring communities.
Last month Kouga Wind Farm reopened the Nkqubela Crèche in KwaNomzamo Township outside Humansdorp, which it rebuilt at a cost of R2.2 million. This after the crèche was razed in a fire several years ago, leaving more than 100 disadvantaged children between the ages of 12 months and five years without a centre for learning.