THE establishment of the R300m, 23,000m2 DCD Wind Towers manufacturing facility marks a new era for South Africa’s renewable power generation capabilities, while contributing to the long-term stability of national electricity supply.
The DCD Wind Towers manufacturing facility, located at the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) in the Eastern Cape, is a joint initiative between the DCD Group, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Coega Development Corporation (CDC.)
The facility was specifically established in the Coega IDZ to support the localisation of wind tower manufacturing in South Africa, which essentially ensures the long-term and sustainable creation of an estimated 150 to 200 operational positions and 628 construction jobs.
DCD Wind Towers general manager Gerrit Viviers notes that the direct operational jobs created through the establishment of the DCD Wind Towers factory include; boilermakers, shot-blasting operators, cutting operators, chamfering operators, roller operators, coded welders and fitters.
“What’s more, a number of unskilled and semi-skilled individuals will be employed for sand blasting, painting and plasma cutting. The benefits to the local economy will penetrate beyond local skilled jobs and training to include logistics opportunities and additional value chain opportunities, thus creating a new industry in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape too,” he explains.
DCD Wind Towers is also contributing positively to sustainable and renewable power generation, as set out by the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). DCD Wind Towers has already signed co-operation agreements with the turbine manufacturers that have been successful in Round 2 of the REIPPPP.
The DCD Wind Towers factory is expected to manufacture between 150 and 200 towers per year for the successful bidders in the REIPPPP programme. These towers will be manufactured to the highest international standards of quality and to exact OEM specifications, while remaining uniquely local.
CDC head of marketing and communications Ayanda Vilakazi, notes that the DCD Wind Towers manufacturing facility will diversify the traditionally automotive sector reliant Nelson Mandela Bay industrial base. “We want to attract investors to the Coega IDZ who are able to add value to the supply chain and align with national government’s drive for localisation of manufacturing, especially in the renewables sector where there are many gaps for high-tech innovation and manufacture. A prime example of the success of this approach is DCD Wind Towers.”
IDC senior account manager for the metal, transport and machinery products unit, Joseph Sithole, believes that the manufacturing sector is of tremendous importance to South Africa’s long-term economic prospects, and suggests that the establishment of the DCD Wind Towers manufacturing facility is the first step in boosting investor confidence within the renewables sector.
“Facilities such as this create direct jobs, while sustaining a large number of jobs in raw material supply and service sectors. DCD Wind Towers is vital to deepening the technological base of the country and its growth, and the REIPPPP will add much-needed capacity to the national electricity grid. This will also have a positive impact on poverty-stricken rural areas, where community members are being trained and skilled for jobs in previously unknown technologies,” he states.
CDC business development manager for energy, Sandisiwe Ncemane, reveals that the CDC is expanding its focus on the renewables sector to include prime industrial space for energy component manufacturing as a key part of its Coega IDZ offering.
“The CDC has shifted focus towards a macro approach engaging the entire renewable energy supply chain, focusing on component manufacturers in particular. DCD Wind Towers is the first example of this approach. As such, its success and the establishment of a thriving business from within the Coega IDZ is key to unlocking business and investment confidence in the renewables sector.”
According to Ncemane, the DCD Wind Towers manufacturing facility is more than just an investment in the Coega IDZ, but rather a legacy project that she believes will go down in the history books as the first facility of its kind in Africa. “This translates to local, sustainable jobs for the people of the region, with scarce skills training and development across a range of skill sets, which can be used not only in renewable energy, but automotive and nuclear sectors too.”
Due to increased renewable energy investments as a result of projects such as the DCD Wind Towers manufacturing facility, the Eastern Cape is set to become a leading wind energy hub. What’s more, the Coega IDZ, including the deepwater Port of Ngqura, is also set to become the core through which renewable energy parts and sector logistics are co-ordinated and managed for the entire province.
Construction work on the DCD Wind Towers project first began in March 2013, with an official sod turning ceremony hosted by the company in May 2013. Following months of tireless work, manufacturing of wind tower components began onsite in February 2014.