Wind energy is the most mature of the renewable technologies with exception of large hydro. It is at the top of total installed capacity ranking with 370 GW all over the world in 2014 and wind energy has the lowest LCOE (levelised cost of energy) of the different renewables. Seeking for more constant and better quality winds, the industry now conquers sees and oceans with large wind farms equipped with embedded high-tech remote monitoring solutions.
Today’s wind turbines are complex systems that transform very efficiently the kinetic energy from the wind to mechanical energy and finally to electrical energy. This requires a high engineering standard to match the different aerodynamic, mechanical and electrical/electronic components.
Small wind turbines take a significant role in off-grid system and for electricity backup installations. Just as a reminder, a few decades ago South Africa had 20 000 wind-powered water pumping system and some of them still work perfectly nowadays.
WIND POWER IN SOUTH AFRICA
The latest technology and knowledge’s is being used to map the wind resource in South Africa -Eastern, Western and part of Northern Cape at the moment - confirming it’s very high potential (see http://www.wasaproject.info/ for more information). There are a number of locations with an annual average wind speed of 8 m/s at 80 m height.
Source: SANEDI, WASA project
In order to enable more wind energy in the electricity mix, more research has to be undertaken to understand the wind resource and wind pattern in South Africa. The main actors of the wind energy sector are grouped into SAWEA (The South African Wind Energy Association) – www.sawea.org.za.
IRP and REIPPPP (DoE):
Currently the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) has released (April 2015) the fourth round of preferred bidders. The three first rounds have been awarded to national EPCs or join ventures of national and international companies. The OEMs are European (Acciona, Vestas, Nordex, Siemens), Indian (Suzlon) and Chinese (Guodian and Sinovel). The three first bid rounds have shown a reduction in electricity price of 35% from round one to round three. These prices are highly competitive, not only in comparison to international prices, but also with respect to local coal-based electricity generation.
Announced round four preferred bidders will add another 686 MW to the grid:
- 142MW Oyster Bay wind farm, Enel Green Power, located in the Eastern Cape
- 141MW Nxuba wind farm, Enel Green Power, located in the Eastern Cape
- 142MW Karusa wind farm, Enel Green Power, located in the Northern Cape
- 140MW Roggeveld wind farm, Building Energy, located at Northern Cape and Western Cape sites
- 117MW Golden Valley wind farm, BioTherm Energy, located in the Eastern Cape
In April 2015, the DoE unveiled an extension of round 4 with an additional 1 800 MW of renewable energy projects of which 6 or 700 MW could be from additional wind farms.
Worth to mention, the wind energy project developers have demonstrate their will to increase the local content, job creation and socio economic developments of their project components. A 42% increase in local contents has been applied on projects from round one to round three. As part of these local contents, steel and concrete tower are already being manufactured locally in South Africa and with a sustained yearly capacity, blade manufacture and nacelle assembly could take place in the country.
A number of local community programmes are being launch which cover mainly education but also infrastructure areas and health sector with the aim of benefiting as much as possible the communities surrounding the wind farms.The South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC; http://www.saretec.co.za/) will be launched in 2015 to train wind turbine service technicians and will deliver specialized training, education and services to the industry.
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