August 16, 2010

Country 'has enough wind for 35 percent of electricity supply'

A University of Cape Town doctoral study has found that South Africa has more than enough wind to provide a consistent feed of electricity into the national grid. The government's renewable energy policy has set a target for a 4% contribution, or about 10 000GWh, of electricity to be produced from renewable sources by 2013.

The study, conducted by Kilian Hagermann for his doctoral thesis, concluded there was enough wind to provide an unexpected 35% of South Africa's electricity. Mr Hagermann's calculations, done in 2008, were based on electricity demand in 2007. The study also found that almost half of South Africa had enough wind to be considered a "good" supply and that sizeable inland regions were an "excellent" resource.

According to Mr Hagermann, wind energy was not only cleaner than coal energy but cheaper, hence the need to invest in wind. "Eskom's latest coal- fired power station, Kusile, will produce power costing about R30m per megawatt of installed capacity. Wind developers in South Africa are working at a far lower cost: R20m-R25m per m egawatt of installed capacity."

The South African Wind Energy Association estimates that 20% of the country's total electricity could be produced by wind in 15 years' time. In a submission on the government's new integrated resource plan, the association said: "The technology exists, is proven, and has decades of operating experience. It can be deployed quickly and at scale by the private sector." (Business Time)

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