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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Cape Town signs wind power deal
Wind farm in the UK
Wind power is non-polluting
The city of Cape Town has signed a deal to buy wind-generated electricity, in what is set to be South Africa's first fully fledged wind power project.

The 70m rand ($10m) deal will allow the building of a 13,200 MWh pilot project at Darling, 50 km north of the city.

The "green" electricity will be sold at a premium rate to users who want it.

Cape Town, famous for its gale-force winds, this year became notorious for power cuts after problems at the nearby Koeberg nuclear power station.

Mayor Helen Zille has said the project would help Cape Town to reach its target of sourcing 10% of its overall energy requirements from sustainable sources by 2020.

There has been a fair deal of interest from the business world - green energy is becoming a favourible brand
Robert MacDonald
Mayoral spokesman
The initial phase of the project - 10 turbines - will produce about 0.2% of the city's electricity needs, the mayor's spokesman, Robert MacDonald, told the BBC News website.

"This is a pilot project to test the waters, to see how many people will have an interest," Mr MacDonald said.

Premium cost

Four turbines are to be built by November, and a further six next year.

The environmentally friendly electricity will be sold initially at a 50% premium.

"There has been a fair deal of interest from the business world - green energy is becoming a favourible brand," Mr Macdonald said, predicting that economies of scale would eventually bring the costs down.

The Danish government and the Development Bank of South Africa have provided most of capital for the establishment of the Darling Wind Farm.

"The city will buy electricity from the windfarm and will pay for what it gets," Mr MacDonald explained.

"Having the agreement in place unlocked the funding."

Most of South Africa's electricity comes from coal-fired power stations.

Rapid economic growth has caused a nationwide shortage of electricity.

Cape Town, far from the country's coalfields and heavily dependent on nuclear power, has been the worst affected as a result of the problems at the Koeberg plant.

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