Germans seem to be very interested in wind power generation in South Africa. I do not know why.
First, we had German-born Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz running the Energy Centre at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). In this position, he proposed a power generation model that was very dependent on wind power. Bischof-Niemz has now become a director of the firm Enertrag SA, which is a subsidiary of Enertrag AG, the Germany-based renewable-energy company founded in 1992. Enertrag has a history of developing wind power projects and, with Bischof-Niemz gone, one hopes the CSIR can get back to scientific and industrial research instead of pushing the wind agenda.
But no! A new German has arisen and has written about power generation in South Africa. However, what he has written is so startlingly stupid that I cannot believe he is, in fact, German born. Hey, I am not saying all Germans are snappy smart but they are good engineers.
Here it is (as reported in Engineering News): “A new, independently produced technological model of South Africa’s cost-optimal power generation mix in 2040 outlines a system where 69% of the electrical energy is produced from on-shore wind and photovoltaic (PV) generators, supported by batteries and gas-fired generators.
“Conducted by the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS), the study concludes that there will be no need for the addition of new coal or nuclear power stations beyond what is already installed. “The system will comprise 19 GW of residual coal-fired generation and 1.8 GW of nuclear power. “There will be 2.9 GW of pumped storage and Cahora Bassa is expected to contribute 1.5 GW capacity. “Increasingly, the variable wind and solar generators will need to be backed up by 11 GW battery units and 12 GW closed-cycle gas turbines.”
All this was compiled by Jonas Hörsch, of the FIAS. He is also quoted as saying: “Overall, our investigation shows that renewable energy in South Africa is incredibly cheap and easily integrated into the system.” He adds that the main conclusion is that South Africa should immediately turn its attention to building a future energy mix based on solar PV and wind.
This, my friends, is pure moonshine. Backed up by 11 GW battery units and 12 GW closed-cycle gas turbines? What is Hörsch thinking? Does he know the running costs of a gas turbine? At R1.30/kWh, it is not cheap.
Is he seriously suggesting that State-owned power utility Eskom should install four times the number of existing gas turbines as backup for wind and solar power? And 11 000 MW of storage batteries? This is all to back up the wind power (we do not need to back up solar power – everybody knows when it is going to shut down). Wind only blows in South Africa’s coastal regions, so are we to have gas turbine farms in the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape? Makes no sense at all.
What is it with the Germans? They are quite smart. They know our politicians are thicker than bricks. They will do anything, as long as you put it the right way and get their brother-in-law a job. So, they paint a picture that is totally false, all to get business for German wind energy firms.
Here is some advice, Jonas Hörsch: if you stick to your knitting and do your studies for Germans, in Germany, I promise not to do any studies here to tell the German government how to grow their power system. Alles gut? Cheers.