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Wind energy critical to bolster energy capacity – SAWEA

SAWEA CEO Niveshen Govender

SAWEA CEO Niveshen Govender

3rd May 2024

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer

     

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Despite recent efforts to bolster electricity generation capacity, the path to energy security remains full of obstacles.

The integration of renewable energy, particularly wind power, is critical to these efforts, says the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA).

SAWEA explains that South Africa’s energy outlook continues to improve, with State-owned power utility Eskom's State of the System and Winter Outlook indicating that collaborative efforts are contributing to improved energy availability factors.

The association says that, while more work is needed across the electricity generation and transmission and distribution sectors to end the energy crisis, wind energy remains a crucial part of the energy mix to combat loadshedding, noting that wind energy already adds up to 2 GW of power during peak hours, significantly alleviating the strain on the grid and reducing the effect of loadshedding.

“With the current wind capacity of 2 GW, wind power alleviates between one to two stages of loadshedding during peak periods by contributing to the grid.

"Through new generation capacity, wind power can positively impact South Africa’s economy, enabling businesses to thrive and restore investor confidence in the country,” says SAWEA CEO Niveshen Govender.

Over the past decade, SAWEA notes, wind energy has been a key component of South Africa’s energy mix, as well as a “driver of resilience and sustainability.”

Hence, the association posits that wind energy will continue to play a significant role in the energy mix given the large project development pipeline – 32 GW – of wind projects in South Africa.

SAWEA says this is evidenced by the 2023 Renewable Energy Grid Survey, which is a collaboration between SAWEA, Eskom and the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association.

The association says the survey has become a yearly monitoring tool requesting developers to provide information that will assist with future energy planning.

However, despite the industry's efforts in developing a pipeline of projects, Govender says challenges such as grid capacity need to be addressed to reap the benefits of new generation capacity for energy security.

"Through continuous engagement and collaboration, as well as deliberate efforts in resolving grid constraints, we could potentially accelerate additional wind power through the public procurement programme, ensuring a successful Bid Window 7.

“Given the positive peak forecast presented by the system operator, and as we further observe what the system requires, the wind industry continues to support energy security through several private power purchase agreement projects that have now entered the construction phase,” adds Govender.

These include projects such as Seriti Green’s Ummbila Emoyeni Wind Farm in Mpumalanga, which is expected to generate 155 MW as part of the project’s initial phase of the 900 MW renewable energy cluster.

Additionally, the Impofu cluster of wind farms in the Eastern Cape is expected to generate a combined 336 MW to supply Sasol and Air Liquide. These projects bring a combined 491 MW and R13.5-billion investment in the short to medium term, SAWEA points out.

Beyond the energy security benefit of these wind farms, it says these initiatives contribute towards a clean energy transition and enhance energy supply, while supporting local community development by fostering new green skills.

“Harnessing the full potential of wind energy not only addresses immediate challenges like loadshedding, but also paves the way for a more resilient and prosperous energy future for South Africa,” concludes Govender.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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