“When people talk about wind power in South Africa they sometimes talk about a rocket launcher after a very slow countdown. That’s really what we’ve seen in South Africa. We took 10 years to stumble from zero to 10 megawatts installed, about 8,000 all over the country,” SA Wind Energy Association CEO Johan van den Berg told CNBC Africa.
“At the moment there’s about 250 under construction. We’re seeing a very significant new infrastructure sector arising. It’s not just in South Africa.”
The Renewable Energy Independent Power Procurement Programme’s third round of bidding, it was announced that the price of wind energy would drop to an average of 74 cents per kilowatt hour.
In the last 25 years, wind power internationally has grown by 27 per cent per year. Van den Berg added that a number of infrastructure projects are also underway to ensure that wind power makes a valuable contribution to South Africa’s energy mix.
“The 2030 blueprint for South Africa’s energy talks about 9,000 megawatts of power installed and about the same for solar. That will be, together, about 20 per cent of the energy delivered, which is very significant,” said van den Berg.
Wind power is estimated 30 per cent cheaper than the projected cost of national power utility Eskom’s Medupi power plant, and renewable energy can be brought to production much quicker than traditional power plants.
“In our media release, we said that we think that just this round of procurement from wind will save the country 15 billion rand over conventional fuel sources over the 20 years or so,” said van den Berg.
“That’s fantastic for the consumer but there’s a broader picture. That is building a sustainable industry with local manufacturing and jobs. For that we have to make sure that this industry is sustainable.”
South Africa’s appetite for renewable energy will however continue to grow as more investment into renewable and cheaper energy production methods emerge.
“The most exciting thing about this whole programme is the community involvement. Typically community trusts around these projects own up to 40 per cent of the equity in these projects,” said van den Berg.