Jeffreys Bay wind farm creates jobs for locals

2013-10-04 12:00
A crane lifts the massive rotor for a wind turbine into place. (Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm)

A crane lifts the massive rotor for a wind turbine into place. (Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm)

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Cape Town - One of the unseen benefits of large renewable energy projects is the employment that they create in local communities.

The Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm currently employs almost 250 people from the various local communities on site that is slated to go online in 2014.

"By employing local residents and providing on-the-job training, which can be applied at other future wind energy production projects planned in the Eastern Cape, this industry is able to make a positive difference in the lives of literally hundreds of families," said Leo Quinn, project manager of Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.

At the peak of the construction phase of the project in August, 602 people from the local Kouga Municipality were employed on the site.

Renewable energy projects though, require most of the capital investment and labour during the construction phase rather than the operational phase.


Despite this, the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm has created an employable workforce well suited to the expected spike labour demand for renewable energy projects.

"As a Council, we've been especially grateful for the work and training opportunities from which local residents have benefited. We see the positive impact every day; there is food on the tables of poor families and people are being equipped with skills that will assist them in finding further future employment," said Kouga Executive Mayor Booi Koerat.

Wind farm

Renewable energy is seen as a viable alternative to coal-powered power plants, especially as the cost of wind and solar technology declines, and the cost of coal is set to increase.

The construction of the massive Medupi power station has been hampered by allegations of poor workmanship and cost overruns.

While Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba expressed his displeasure at the delays, he appeared to backtrack from his earlier statement that officials would be fired over project delays.

"It was on this basis that as the shareholder representative, I had made very strong statements and held the parties accountable to the deadline. I had to put everyone under pressure to deliver. I have held a very firm view that everything must be done to comply with the project schedule of December 2013 and that all the parties, particularly the contractors, must fulfil their obligations," Gigaba said at the Eskom post-AGM media briefing at Megawatt Park.

Future cost

"The most conservative estimates show Medupi to be expected at around R0.90/kWh, although with the delays and costs overruns most expect the price of electricity to be well over R1.00/kWh. It also should be noted there is significant risk in the future coal price, with the price of coal having increased at over 20% per annum for the last few years," Frank Spencer told News24.

Spencer has a masters in Electrical Engineering, as well as a Philosophy degree in Sustainable Development and runs Emergent Energy, a renewable energy consultancy and projects company.

He said that the future cost of wind farms is predictable, which is often not the case with coal or nuclear power stations.

"Wind Farms, for example, are bidding at below R0.9/kWh, with a PPI [Producer Price Index] linked escalation in price for 20 years, thus the future price is completely known."

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Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  renewable energy

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