This is according to Dipolelo Elford, chairperson of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) who said that wind farms will generate over seven billion rand of revenue for local economic development over the next 20 years.
“Utility scale wind energy is already boosting economic development in South Africa. Industry and government are committed to ensuring that these benefits are realised by small business and local communities across the country,” she said in a statement.
Currently, there are five wind farms in full operation with an additional 22 set for construction. A total of 2,684 megawatts (MW) is set to be installed.
According to SAWEA’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), each utility-scale wind farm invests a percentage of its revenue towards socioeconomic development in the local communities surrounding the farm.
Shares in the wind farm project company are also allocated to entities representing local residents within a 50 kilometre radius.
SAWEA said that the wind farms‘ revenue and share dividends will benefit the local economies and residents over the full 20-year lifetime of the farms.
With more large-scale developments planned through to 2030, revenue figures are expected to be on similar levels to that of more mature wind energy markets in Europe and the United States.
Jo Reeves, SAWEA‘s public relations consultant added that the REIPPPP was explored in more detail at this year’s Windaba held in Cape Town in November 2014, where ongoing discussions took place around working with communities and how funds can be most effectively invested.
“Windaba is South Africa's largest wind energy conference so it's the best forum for industry members to get together and discuss pertinent issues, successes and progress,” said Reeves.
“This year we were lucky enough to have many prestigious speakers including members of Eskom, the acting director general of the Department of Energy and many more who were able to bring valuable insight, learning and best practice to the conference.”
She added that wind energy has become a significant source of power to the grid, relieving Eskom of pressures.
“Wind energy is already providing much needed power to the grid. The acting director-general of the Department of Energy, Dr Wolesy Barnard, told media at the Windaba conference that they are already relying on renewable energy (both wind and solar) to fill the gap and that this was discussed in the emergency meeting following the Majuba failure,” she explained.
“There are 2,684MW in total allocated for wind energy and this is at all stages of operation, development and planning. There is the will, funds and natural resources for this figure to expand significantly with go ahead from the government. Wind energy has the potential to generate 62 per cent of South Africa's electricity needs.”