South African Wind Energy Association Wants 25 Percent of Energy to Be Renewable

The South African wind power industry has called on the government to set an ambitious 25% renewable energy contribution to electricity consumption by 2025.

This is part of the industry’s contribution to the second integrated resource plan (IRP2), a government-driven process to identify future energy demand and the mix that will meet it.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth is to receive power during the World Cup between 11 June and 11 July from the first of 25 wind turbines set up by Electrawinds at the Coega wind farm project in Eastern Cape province.

The wind energy industry’s call for a bigger contribution of renewable energy is an indication of the lobbying likely to characterise the IRP2 process, with representatives of the various energy technologies vying for a bigger share of the energy industry. The process will cover 25 years. SA’s current target is for a 10,000 GWh contribution of renewable energy by 2013.

The South African Wind Energy Association (Sawea) last week unveiled its submission to the IRP2 process in which it called for the 25% target for renewable energy contribution by 2025. "South Africa’s electricity market is at a crossroads and the challenges facing policy makers are formidable. Yet, this country is ideally suited to renewable energy development with abundant wind energy and solar resources. In other parts of the world, they have to go offshore or import renewable energy from other countries," said deputy chairman Mark Tanton.

Sawea said its research showed renewable energy could provide 100 TWh of electricity, or 25% of SA’s consumption, by 2025. The bulk of this would be delivered by wind energy. The association said wind energy could contribute 80% of the 100 TWh. The development of this renewable resource would create up to 40000 jobs, it said.

Tanton said, if dispersed across SA, wind farm plants could provide SA with an average daily minimum power output of 7,000 MW, "displacing the equivalent coal or nuclear baseload".

The industry has also moved to counter criticism that renewable energy is unreliable. "Not in our view," said Davin Chown, director of Mainstream Renewable Power. The association said wind was a predictable resource. Modern international forecasting methods enable system operators to predict the available wind and solar resources between 24 hours and 72 hours ahead.

Speaking at the launch of the submission in Cape Town last week, Chown said there was a strong case for wind power.

SA could not afford to build more coal-fired power stations, he said. Chown and Tanton counted savings on water among the benefits of accelerated investment in renewable energy. "In addition, it will save in excess of 80-billion litres of water each year.

"One 1000 MW coal station competes with 125000 homes annually for access to running water. Wind power does not need water. Without this investment in renewable energy, SA will not meet its commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020," Tanton said.