Wind energy could power 35 percent of South Africa’s needs

The study, conducted by Kilian Hagermann for his doctoral thesis, said wind power could supply a consistent feed of electricity into South Africa’s national grid.

The South African government’s renewable energy policy has set a target for a four percent contribution, or about 10,000 Gigawatt hours (GWh), of electricity to be produced from renewable sources by 2013.

According to Business Day newspaper in Johannesburg on Monday, Hagermann’s calculations done in 2008, were based on South African electricity demand in 2007.

Almost half of South Africa had enough wind to be considered a "good" supply and that sizeable inland regions were an "excellent" resource for wind farm, the study found.

Hagermann said wind energy was not only cleaner than coal energy but cheaper, hence the need to invest in wind turbines.

South Africa relies on coal for more than 80 percent of its electricity generation, controlled by the state-owned utility Eskom.

Hagermann told Business Day: "Eskom’s latest coal-fired power station, Kusile, will produce power costing about 30 million rands (4.1 million U.S dollars) per megawatt of installed capacity. Wind developers in South Africa are working at a far lower cost: 20-25 million rands (2.7 -3.4 million U.S. dollars )per megawatt of installed capacity."

The South African Wind Energy Association estimates that 20 percent of the country’s total electricity could be produced by wind energy in 15 years.