Plans are already at an advanced stage for the construction of a large wind farm to the west of Riebeeck East. The Department of Environmental Affairs accepted a scoping report in August this year which allows Renewable Energy Systems (RES) Southern Africa to move ahead to the next stage of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process.
The proposed wind farm, to be known as Spitskop Wind Energy Facility, would stretch from a point six kilometres to the north-west of Riebeeck East and follow the route of the R400 beyond its intersection with the N10 highway.
While the precise technical details of the facility have not yet been determined, the scoping report says there could be up to 200 large turbines generating as much as 400 mega-watts (MW) on a site of 264 square kilometres. The individual turbines are expected to be anywhere from 80 to 100 metres high, giving them a capacity of between 1.8 and 3MW each.
The company will base its final decision on further studies of local wind patterns.
The EIA process will consider a wide range of factors including the impact of the farm on natural vegetation such as fynbos; ecologically sensitive areas such as dunes and wetlands; birds, bats and other wildlife as well as the possible consequences for tourism.
Preliminary reports suggest that the visual impact of the farm could affect areas as far as 10km away from the nearest turbine. There are also concerns about the noise generated by the turbines.
The scoping report says that each turbine will have a combination of concrete and rock adaptor foundations to support them. They will be connected to each other by means of underground cables where possible, and connected to Eskom’s power grid by means of new overhead power lines.