Taking advantage of Cape Town's wind

2014-05-26 09:18

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Cape Town – Two new large commercial wind farms in the Western Cape are contributing to South Africa’s national grid, in an effort to decrease the pressure placed on the energy sector.

The Hopefield Wind Farm in Swartland is a 66.6MW energy plant. The Dassiesklip Wind farm in Overberg will provide South Africa with 27MW of energy, created from nine turbine generators.

These two farms in conjunction with a number of wind farms will provide South Africa with 1 983MW of energy over the next two decades according to a report on IOL.

So far the country has developed five new wind farms, that are currently operational and a further 15 farms are being built.

According to Eskom's report on financial results in 2013 it costs the utility 54.2c to generate one kilowatt hour (kWh).

The SA Wind Energy Association (Sawea) has assured South Africans that the energy created from these farms will be considerably cheaper (30%) than the power that is generated though coal stations.

Communities that live close to the wind farms are said to benefit immensely by not only receiving cheaper electricity, but many will become part of the programmes through compulsory shareholding.

It also estimated that these wind farms will contribute R5bn toward socio-economic projects over the next 20 years.

Johan van den Berg, Sawea’s executive, believes that the new wind power projects in South Africa and other renewable energy projects such as solar power will uplift rural development.

Van den Berg in fact argues that the renewable energy programmes will provide more socio-economic development that any other sector in SA, including the private sector.

Umoya Energy is behind the Hopefield Wind Farm, the company was created to take advantage of governments call for renewable energy programmes by independent power producers.

The company hopes to contribute 3 625MW of energy within the next 20 years through their various renewable energy projects.

Umoya Energy to date has already secured three bids by government to create wind farms around South Africa.

So how much will government pay for the electricity these farms are generating?

It is estimated already that the costs of electricity from these wind projects specifically has dropped by 42%. Initially government was expected to pay R1.14/kWh, that amount was dropped to 89c/kWh, and again was dropped even further to 74c/kWh.

Criticism

But wind energy projects have vocal critics.

In 2012, an advert appeared in a local newspaper that claimed massive numbers of birds are killed by wind turbines.

The Wind Point advert claimed that up to 270 000 birds in the US are killed by wind turbines annually and called on South Africans to object to the development of wind energy as a clean energy alternative to coal and nuclear power production.

BirdLife SA said that it contributed toward a series of protocols to ensure the birds were protected before wind farms were sited.

"BirdLife SA and the Endangered Wildlife Trust have developed a protocol where we ask that wind farm developers do not only do monitoring for a day or two, but for a whole month before a wind farm is approved. Most wind developers accept those protocols", said Ernst Retief, regional conservation manager for BirdLife SA.

A CSIR study found that wind farms in SA presented a low risk to birds, but urged continued monitoring.

"As far as collision mortality for birds is concerned, it is predicted that the project will have a negative impact of low significance [with mitigation]. This will have to be verified by post-construction monitoring", the study said.

Read more on:    cape town  |  environment  |  renewable energy

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