GRI geared to meet additional wind capacity demands

8th November 2019 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Creamer Media Online Writer

The South African Wind Energy Association says South Africa will need to produce about 640 wind turbines a year up to 2029 to meet the energy goals outlined in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019.

Fortunately, the capacity already exists in the country to produce 150 steel wind towers and related components a year, says JSE-listed investment company Hulisani CEO Marubini Raphulu.

Hulisani has a 25% shareholding in local wind tower manufacturer GRI Renewable Energies.

Raphulu states that industry players are calling for urgency in procurement to feed new wind energy into the power grid by 2022, given the three-year lead time from procurement to production.

An additional 1 600 MW of wind power capacity will be added to South Africa’s generation mix every year between 2022 and 2030.

“We support this call, as the GRI operational plant is already producing 150 steel wind towers a year with the capacity to produce more. This is equal to the towers required to produce 450 MW to 750 MW of the allocated capacity using 3 MW to 5 MW wind turbines respectively,” he explains.

The remaining balance can be provided by concrete towers or new steel tower manufacturers.

The GRI business managed to keep operating during the delay in the publication of the IRP 2019 and has exported wind towers over the past two years.

“While we will need to procure additional capacity to meet South Africa’s wind energy goals, we must ensure that local content procurement rules are enforced to ensure that we not only retain but grow employment, develop skills and reduce costs in the longer term,” says Raphulu.

GRI started manufacturing wind towers in 2014 and is a significant contributor to the wind industry in South Africa.