Wind industry questions SA tariffs

2011-05-11 09:18

Cape Town - The perception that wind turbines are loud has had a negative impact on the implementation of renewable energy solutions, but the issue of tariffs remains controversial in SA, an industry insider has said.

"It's a perception that these turbines are loud. That was from 20 years ago," Windwatts Turbines managing director Sean van Horsten told News24 on the sidelines of the 3rd Wind Power Africa conference in Cape Town.

The company produces horizontal and vertical wind turbines and Van Horsten said that the turbines were efficient, particularly because they occupied a small "footprint".

"We have a horizontal and vertical axis turbine, and we find that the vertical axis turbine is more efficient, but we don't know why yet," said marketing director Corné Snyders.

Some companies were demonstrating huge wind turbines with a rotor diameter in excess of 100m. They generate up to 2.5MW per turbine, but need to be built away from residential areas.


In SA, energy problems in rural areas where people lived away from the Eskom grid could be solved by a combination of complementing technologies to generate electricity.

"We can sort out the energy crisis in the rural areas. With between 1MW to 5MW, you could power up to 5 000 homes," said Van Horsten.

He added that 14 stacks (wind turbine and solar panel) could deliver 1MW of energy, but access to funding was problematic.

"The tap-in tariffs are a façade. How can you take away a third of your profit? And now Eskom is thinking about dropping it even further," fumed Van Horsten.

He said that wind energy could be used along South Africa's coastal areas and that the turbines needed a breeze to begin generating power.

"About 68% of the time, the wind is blowing along the coast, but if you live there, it's a lot more. The turbines work with a wind of 4m/s - that's a Cape Town breeze."

Several speakers at the conference hinted that they were ready to meet the targets but waited on government's go ahead with new tariffs and legislation around renewable energy sources.

Renewable energy

"SA is about to become one of the world's most exciting renewables market, adopting renewables late but with a high growth rate," said Paul Earley-Taylor from Standard Bank.

Proven Energy's Chris Simpson warned that wind turbines were certified and users should be aware of the servicing cost for machines, particularly those sited in inhospitable locations or at sea.

Van Horsten blasted Eskom for dragging its heels on accelerating renewable energy.

"It's not in Eskom's best interest to move the industry forward, so we fly under the radar.

"We've had massive support from the Eastern Cape government. When we go into a village, we train people and they become the maintenance crew," he said.

Recently, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) called on the government to invest in renewable energy.


"South Africa, like other developing countries, has a vital opportunity to use investment in renewable energy as an engine of economic development, livelihoods and dignity. Starting that engine demands investment as well as an enabling legislative environment," said the WWF's climate change programme manager Richard Worthington.

Large utilities have been blamed for sabotaging the alternative energy industry.

"Utilities have lost out to wind farms and they're losing business to smaller companies. So they're sabotaging renewable energy projects," said Hermann Oelsner, president of the African Wind Energy Association.

Van Horsten said that entrepreneurs need help to get the industry moving.

"All we're saying is: 'Just give us a shot.'"

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  • YourNightmare - 2011-05-11 09:40

    wind is a free source of energy, we should not pay for energy created by wind turbines.... i dont mind a once off payment but thats it..... we need to get to a point where natural energy is free, ineternet is free,m phone calls are free..... we need a free world everything must be free

      tkotze - 2011-05-11 09:47

      OK, now this just tells me you make comments purely to stirr - no way you could honestly believe what you are saying and have access to internet.

      Nserver1 Server - 2011-05-11 09:49

      I hear what you say, but you need to take into account the cost of the companies that are setting it up, they need to pay their staff/workers. Albeit we can't get it free, if it is at a much lower cost than Eskom that should motivate ppl to use more renewable energy sources.

      justitiae - 2011-05-11 09:50

      Waht about maintenance and expansions to facilitate growth in a service area? who will pay for that? if it is free, then government will have to pay and they will tax the citizens to make up the difference. Your comment, although deserving, doesn't make sense. Even with a once off cost - the generation of the enrgy wont be sustained. Not too worry though - this will never happen in SA. Eskom is against it and it will probably cause them to make labour cuts which means the unions will be against it. Just another dream in a pipeline full of great ideas that could have had this country display an economy that competes with the other world powers. Capitalism is dead in SA as long as we have a socio-comunistic government in power!

      callan - 2011-05-11 09:50

      who maintains the "free" facility, who pays for the construction, the erection, the maintainence of the turbine, who manages the connection to the grid...ect? Obviously cost should be kept as low as possiple, especially if the technology is to benefit rural areas ect as opposed to bussiness. Nothing is "free"

      Gnefdt - 2011-05-11 09:51

      Why don't you build a wind turbine at your own cost and provide the power to others for free??? Get real!

      Mariana - 2011-05-11 09:56

      And the maintanance on the turbine ???? We visited the Netherlands last year, the main compliant from the society was these turbines does not generate enough energery in relation to the maintanance costs.

      YourNightmare - 2011-05-11 09:58

      all i'm saying is we must not allow it to be a money making machine that makes someone rich...... it is about time we start doing things that benfit people and not making people rich..... we dont mind paying a leavy to keep the turbines running but it ends there, we are not going to pay leavies that make profits and make people rich

      Martin - 2011-05-11 10:01

      I cant believe you guys reply to this clown as if you really believe that he is serious. This guy is pulling your chain, wake up and smell the coffee.

      terry - 2011-05-11 10:54

      @YourNightmare - your name says it all, because it is thinking like you have expressed above which is the reason that this country is in such a mess. You don't seem to understand that you need to budget as much money over 4 or 5 years for maintenance as it did to build the thing. This government does the same thing - they build a soccer stadium, or road, etc. - and then think "OK - job done!" without realising that you have to spend money over the next 10 years to maintain it ... and that's why so much of the infrastructure that they inherited is falling apart.

      roboman1 - 2011-05-11 10:57

      sounds very african...just give it to me for nothing...entitlement without input. (and without any practical IQ.) These turbines need to be maintained, as do the cables and infra structure etc. In fact, with reference to your internet comment, its a pity you have internet at all!

      ConcernedMom - 2011-05-11 11:47

      TO ALL: Interesting article I found re wind power.

      Johan - 2011-05-11 16:24

      So, put up your own wind generator. You may use the wind for free.

  • jakes147 - 2011-05-11 10:15

    The utilities are sabotaging renewable energy projects by providing cheaper and more reliable energy. Who the hell wants to pay R1.27/kWh before municipal charges. Currently Eskom sells at R0.32/kWh these guys should come back when they can compete in the current market and not cry foul.

      jakes147 - 2011-05-11 10:28

      It currently cost Eskom R0.28 to generate a kWh. When these guys come into the market Eskom will have to buy electricity from them through the refit at R0.94 and resell it at a loss for R0.32, Eskom will have to subsidize the renewable energy by selling coal energy. So these guys will indirectly be making money from coal energy. So in the end we the sheeple will be paying more for less while these okes rake in the money.

  • Paolo Giacchetti - 2011-05-11 10:21

    I understand all the points made in this article and commend the wind industry for standing up and being counted. But, if you are going to justify your stand you must put ALL your cards on the table, both positive and negative, if you want support. My question to you is: What measures do you have in place to prevent the wind turbines from killing birds. This is an issue that is not easy to solve but you must not hide it from the public. Please let us know if any research is being done and also put it forward for suggestions. South Africans are great at comming forward with ideas the protect our wildlife,

      Jacques Otto - 2011-05-11 10:49

      Yes Paolo we have all these birds on a Kamakazi mission. They fly freely and then see a turbine and dive directly into them. Suicide birds. Just like table mountain. The birds decide to just fly directly into the mountain causing huge loss of bird life. Cape Town must come clean on this. Look mate the coal power plants are killing more than just birds it is F%4king up our entire planet. Next you will call for research on tar roads and the death of ants and miggies from speeding vehicles

      YourNightmare - 2011-05-11 10:51

      dont forget the bat which fly at night, the bats will also be in danger

      Tim S - 2011-05-11 11:42

      There are bird and bat monitoring projects planned for operational phase, and monitoring is on the go at the moment in areas where wind farms are proposed. Jacques, I understand your frustration, but your sarcasm screams ignorance. The new coal stations being built are to be fitted with sulfur scrubbers, and are to be some of the cleanest in the world (fossil fuel issues aside). The potential impact on bird and bat life is thought to be high, but is addressed in each application. To blindly fight for the planet without any research or factual backing is dangerous and counterproductive.

  • ConcernedMom - 2011-05-11 11:51

    More recent:

  • Lizelle van Sant - 2011-05-11 16:52

    email me for wind energy global market intelligence:

  • Koos - 2011-09-26 07:43

    Have a look at the following website for state of the art vertical axis wind turbines that can generate the power where it is needed.

  • Marc - 2011-09-26 08:30

    The new generation wind turbines are incredible devices. Its the way to go. They should be exclusively privatised. ESCOM wouldn't be able to cash in on them very much though so watch this space.

  • Marc - 2012-03-04 08:59

    i totally believe in renewable energy....wind and solar energy shouldbe free to all of us. the initial set up costs cant be overlooked but thereafter only maintenance costs should be incurred. Where can a person purchase smaller household wind turbines etc... thank you. Regards Marc

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