Wind sector in South Africa at risk of being seen as exclusive

4th October 2023

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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South Africa’s wind energy industry is in danger of being seen as an exclusive sector, Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority CEO Mpho Mookapele warned, in her keynote address to the Windaba 2023 conference, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, on Wednesday.

She reported opinions expressed by young people that there were no opportunities for them in the wind sector. The same views were being expressed by small, medium-sized and microenterprises.

The wind sector needed to take the local communities, around its wind farm projects, into account. It couldn’t just talk about technology, about grid access, about unlocking opportunities – all these topics displayed self-interestedness by the industry.

“There’s a lot of great work that has been done by [independent power producers] in our [rural] communities,” she reported. “But a lot more needs to be done.”

She noted that wind power had played a crucial role in recent years in diversifying the country’s energy mix. But she queried whether the wind industry was really collaborating with other players in the energy sector.

“I don’t think business has a common agenda with government and communities,” she cautioned. “We are in a very difficult position in South Africa. Transition is difficult. Transition in South Africa is more difficult.”

She also queried if the wind sector was really collaborating with the other energy technology providers. Was it collaborating with the solar sector, the fossil fuel sector, the nuclear sector? Or was the wind industry in a “competitive mode”?

The country needed renewables, and coal, and nuclear, she affirmed. For the country, the issue was energy security, not the adoption of a specific technology. The wind sector should see itself as part of a wider energy mix, and not be focused on its “allocation” within the country’s Integrated Resource Plan.

Mookapele also highlighted that wind power was not new to South Africa. Windmills had long been used to power water pumps on farms and in rural villages.

“We should not be trailing behind,” she affirmed. “We shouldn’t just copy and adopt [technology].” The country should become a leader in wind power.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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