Mainstream Renewable Power is planning the development of three large-scale wind power projects in South Africa after being awarded preferred bidder status by the country’s Department of Energy.

The international renewable energy developer says that the three projects, which total 360 MW of capacity, are on track to be fully operational in mid-2014.

The award is part of South Africa’s renewable energy procurement programme, under which Mainstream was awarded 238 MW of wind and solar projects in 2011.

The programme is part of plans by South Africa to add 17.8 GW of renewable energy to the country’s grid by 2030, and has attracted much interest from energy firms from around the world.

In October Spanish firm Abengoa announced that it had been selected by the Department of Energy to develop a 100 MW parabolic trough solar plant in Northern Cape province, South Africa.

The Xina Solar One project will be constructed adjacent to the 100 MW KaXu Solar One and together the two plants will form the largest solar energy complex in Africa.

Xina Solar One will be equipped with a five-hour thermal energy storage system using molten salt technology. "This project once again illustrates the maturity of solar thermal technology, which can be efficiently stored and used when it is needed," said Manuel Sanchez Ortega, Chief Executive Officer of Abengoa.

According to Mainstream, some 93 bids were submitted in the latest round of the renewable energy procurement programme and 17 were awarded. "Mainstream is now the leading developer of renewable energy in South Africa; we have three wind and solar projects due to be operational in the coming months and now a further three large-scale wind farms due to start construction next year," said Eddie O’Connor, CEO of Mainstream.

Mainstream will build the 140 MW Khobab wind farm, the 140 MW Loeriesfontein 2 wind farm and the 80 MW Noupoort wind project, all of which are in Northern Cape province. The total investment in the projects will be around R9 billion, with financial close expected in mid-2014.

Mainstream will be building the wind farms in partnership with South African renewable energy developer Genesis Eco-Energy, local investment companies Thebe Investment Corporation, Futuregrowth Asset Management and Old Mutual’s IDEAS Managed Fund, and local community members.