Major manufacturers and suppliers of wind energy turbines and equipment to South Africa are relieved that the wind industry is on a roll again, but have called on the government to close the procurement gap in the draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).
The current draft IRP has a gap in the years 2022, 2023 and 2024, when no wind energy will be procured.
Goldwind Africa CEO Jianqing Zhou said the wind industry had the potential to be dynamic and create many jobs, but it needed a long-term predictable market in which to operate and survive.
“It’s hard to have a long-term investment if you have a big gap. We would like to see some adjustments in this draft to allow the industry to continue to create more jobs and realise our commitments,” he told delegates at the annual wind energy conference, Windaba, in Cape Town.
ENERCON country sales manager Allan Palmer said consistency had proved to make investment smoother and easier in other countries in which it operates, such as Portugal, Germany, Brazil and France. It was also essential to support and sustain employment.
“A stop-start situation would make things very difficult,” he said.
The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) has pointed out the anomaly in its submission to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Energy on the draft IRP.
Meanwhile, the Independent Power Producers (IPP) Office says it is keen to maximise investment and jobs in the industry through the value chain, from construction to installation and manufacturing.
IPP Office head of economics Lolette van Niekerk said there was a new reporting framework within Bid Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme which focused sharply on localisation.
Companies would have to report to the IPP Office on what they had achieved. She said it would be applied fully in Bid Window 5. Minimum thresholds and targets have been set higher for each subsequent bid window.
The original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs), meanwhile, say they are committed to developing the industry.
Nordex South Africa CEO and SAWEA board member Anne Henschel said it was important to establish a manufacturing industry around the wind energy sector in South Africa. She called on other companies to work together on ideas for sourcing local products as well as manufacturing.
“OEMs want to be part of the South African market. We are ready to take it to the next level. We have reached 65% local thresholds in Russia, Argentina and Brazil,” said Vestas business development manager Maite Meyer.
Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy MD Janek Winand agreed that it was important to develop local suppliers.
South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC) director Naim Rassool said SARETEC was working out how to broaden skills into related service industries as well as manufacturing value chains.
“Having 800 service technicians is not going to make a dent on our unemployment rate. We are also exploring providing basic technical and other skills to youth in the community, to empower them to find work in urban areas, as well as work on wind farms.”
Rassool said there were valuable lessons to learn from the automotive industry in South Africa. He suggested the wind energy industry create a value chain to supply components in the wind sector, even simple products such as bearings, oils, bolts and nuts.
“We can create new companies that can do that. We could use Atlantis as a special economic zone or tap into existing automotive value chains.”
Rassool also called for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to maintain closer links with the wind energy industry – a comment echoed by several OEMs.
“The DTI is too distant from us. It should be closer, so that we can see how to tap into these manufacturing value chains,” he suggested.