Industry report finds that Wind Farming is a viable Electricity generation option for South Africa
Dr Garth Cambray
As South Africa begins to unlock the potential of alternative energy, the simplicity of wind farm technology holds obvious benefits. Extensive research has been invested in assessing the viability of wind farming in the South African context.
Instrumental in this process has been the South African Wind Energy Association, SAWEA, who has compiled a comprehensive proposed Integrated Resource Plan for wind energy in South Africa. Some of the key findings are listed below.
Wind power consumes no water. Other sources of electricity, such as coal and nuclear, consume considerable quantities of water. Installing 30 000MW of wind power would save the amount of water used by a city of 300 000 people. Given that South Africa has currently technically run out of water and cannot guarantee each citizen their constitutional right to clean running water, this saving of water is very important from a human rights perspective.
Wind power has considerable job creation potential in South Africa, with the potential that a 30 000MW industry would create upwards of 40 000 quality jobs.
Wind power also saves money by displacing more expensive electricity sources from the grid. Currently, quite a significant amount of South Africa’s electricity is provided by generation systems that use either diesel, or gas, or aviation fuel, costing more than R2-R3 per kWh of electricity produced. The fact that these generation systems also use up scarce transport fuels for making electricity, means that consumers pay twice for this electricity, once when they use the electricity, and a second time when they buy fuel, or use products which require fuel to produce, as the use of vehicle fuel to produce electricity increases the cost of fuel.
Wind power will save money in terms of carbon penalties we would have to pay as a nation. From 2012, there will be an array of penalties and taxes that will come into play with regards a nation’s carbon output. If South Africa installs 30 000MW of wind power by 2025, this will save us from emitting 70 million tons per annum of carbon dioxide. Current projections suggest that soon we will have to as a country pay in the region of €40 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted – this would mean that installing 30 000MW of wind power would save us more than R32 billion (€3.3 billion) per annum in carbon taxes.
Wind power is a distributed power source – in other words it tends to be most
effective if you have wind farms dotted all over a very wide area – the wider
the better. If your town or city is far away from a power plant, this means that
currently, your electricity will be of quite a low quality, as there are surges
and lags in supply that happen if electricity has to travel long distances
through power lines. By having a wind farm in your area, this wind farm feeds
electricity into the grid, and adds a local supply, which helps to reduce surges
in power, meaning that appliances last longer.
Website - SAWEA
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