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South Africa and Denmark to collaborate on wind energy

Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica and Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller on Friday signed a Declaration of Intent with a view to using wind energy as a renewable energy source in the country.
Addressing the Wind Energy Seminar in Pretoria on Friday, the minister said: "Wind is the fastest growing energy source with an average annual growth of 29 percent over the last 10 years. The wind industry provides more jobs per capita than conventional power generation.

"Over 70 countries now have wind power, and many developing countries have joined the trend recently."

Although South Africa has an abundance of coal, there is huge growth potential in renewable energies. According to Ms Sonjica, the potential for wind energy in the country is estimated to be in the region of 64 000 Giga Watt Hours (GWh). This potential, she said, presents an investment opportunity to achieve a more ambitious target for renewable energy beyond the current modest 2013 target of 10 000 GWh.
"We believe that this is a realistic target and we will continue to monitor and review our performance," said the minister.

Ms Sonjica explained that the global wind power industry has experienced supply chain difficulties due to booming demand. "[But] we hope that through co-operation with the Danish government we will be able to find innovative ideas to address such challenges.

South Africa has one existing wind farm in Darling in the Western Cape, and in order to stimulate power development beyond the existing 5.2 Mega Watt farm, the department is rolling out phase 1 of the South African Wind Energy Programme (SAWEP). SAWEP is a two-year technical assistance project started in February last year aiming to install and operate the 5.2 MW Darling wind farm and develop wind farms with a collective resource of 45 MW.

"Technology and skills transfer is at the core of our efforts to develop a sustainable wind energy industry in South Africa," Ms Sonjica highlighted.

The Danish foreign minister said challenges such as the economic recession, climate change and energy supply further heightened the need for renewable energy usage.

In the mid-70's Denmark faced a number of economic and energy supply issues, but managed to change the composition of its energy consumption, cut their reliance on fossil fuels and create an energy conscious society. "Denmark currently has the lowest energy intensity in the European Union (EU)," Mr Moller said, adding that wind energy accounts for about 20 percent of their electricity consumption. The Danish foreign minister said Denmark would provide South Africa with greater technical expertise and help facilitate cooperation between companies looking to invest in renewable energy. He said that the world's current reliance on fossil fuels might one day create a new world order where energy suppliers rule over the energy consumers.

One of the biggest challenges to investors in renewable energy is the fact that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) has an unfavourable tariff system towards renewable energy. "Tariffs for generating energy from coal are much lower than generating energy from renewable sources. The deficit between the tariffs will, however, be subsidised by government, and the deficit between the tariffs will be covered by a 'feed in tariff'," Ms Sonjica told media.

Source: BuaNews

Additional information: Department of Minerals and Energy
News date: 24/01/2009

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