Chinese group unveils plan for new African wind power giant

Chinese group unveils plan for new African wind power giant

China’s Sany Heavy Industries said it secured a deal with Tanzania’s Sigida regional government to develop and equip a 600MW wind power project in the African country that could be a new regional giant.

The project – which if it reaches that capacity would be double the size of sub-Saharan Africa’s current largest wind farm, Lake Turkana in Kenya – will cost $150m to build, said Sany as it unveiled plans for a 100MW first phase.

Wind is currently a small element of the product mix of Sany, a construction equipment giant that is one of China’s largest privately-owned companies but was ranked only fourteenth in its domestic market last year. However, it was the number-four Chinese turbine exporter, with 245MW shipped to its own projects.

Sany, which manufactures turbines with ratings between 1.5MW and 3MW, is one of a raft of Chinese turbine-makers and power infrastructure groups aiming to make progress in emerging wind markets in Africa, Latin America and Asia. In 2017 it also laid out plans for US expansion.

The Tanzania development means it “is likely to re-enter the African market,” three years after the OEM sold 102 units of 1.5MW each to Ethiopia’s ADAMA Phase 2 project, the statement said.

Tanzania – which only has 1.5GW of power capacity covering just 38% of the population – so far has no large-scale wind in operation, but is advancing on several fronts.

Last year Recharge reported how the IFC-backed developer Windlab secured the nation’s first Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Certificate for its 300MW Miombo Hewani wind farm and transmission project, near Makambako in the country’s south.

Earlier this year, the state-owned Tanzania Electric Supply Co (TANESCO) published a tender invitation to seek investors and developers for a fleet of wind and solar projects totalling 200MW and 150MW, respectively, across Dodoma, Singida, Shinyanga, Mwanza, Simiyu and Iringa regions.

Sany is also in the running for the wind element, along with Marubeni of Japan, and EDF and Total of France, the Chinese firm revealed in a statement three months ago.

Tanzania’s ambition is demonstrated by Sany’s assertion that 600MW “will represent 8% of the country’s new capacity to be put up”, suggesting that the African country looks set to add 7.5GW of power installations in the coming years.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently said wind and solar would be pivotal in bringing power to a potential half a billion Africans by 2040.