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South Africa's wind resources can meet over 70% of its current electricity demand

A study by Mainstream Renewable Power South Africa using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and state of the art Mesoscale wind flow modelling concludes that South Africa has enough economically viable wind energy sites to generate 184 Terawatt hours (TWh) of indigenous, sustainable energy.
Electricity demand in South Africa currently stands at around 250 TWh, coming from 44 GW of installed capacity and is expected to grow to 80 GW by 2025. The country is currently the 12th biggest producer of CO2 emission per capita in the world and emissions are set to quadruple by 2050 if drastic measures are not taken.

The study modelled the entire surface area of the country using GIS technology, which assesses a variety of inputs including terrain elevation, wind speed, grid line locations and urban areas, and outputs the areas where wind farms can be constructed. The company believes that up to 5 GW can be built within a five year period, which would generate 13 TWh, or about 5% of the country’s current electricity demand. Strong public and government commitment combined with the right regulatory environment, wind power could easily reach 25% of the country’s current electricity demand by 2025, similar to what is happening in many other international markets.

Mark Tanton, the deputy chairperson of the South African Wind Energy Association commented “This study, once again, proves that we have a significant wind resource in the country. In order to deliver on our long-term energy future we need to take immediate action. If government is serious about reaching its renewable energy targets and finding a cost effective solutions to bolster our ailing power supply, the potential contribution from wind power projects cannot be ignored. To date Eskom has received applications in excess of 10.5 GW for grid connections for wind power projects in South Africa. Once the issues around accessing the PPA are resolved, the 28 developers who have lodged these applications would be more than capable of bringing a minimum of 4GW into the system by 2013.”

Commenting on the report, Mainstream South Africa’s Davin Chown said,” South Africa is facing a serious economic and energy crises and wind energy has a significant role to play in tackling both of these issues. As a nation, we can’t afford to ignore the potential of our vast wind energy resource. We need to introduce at least 36 GW of new energy capacity over the next 15 years and by using our own natural resources to plug this gap we will not only reduce our CO2 emissions by over 68 million tonnes each year, but we’ll create a whole new economic industry, particularly in rural areas, generating new jobs and empowering local communities through education, training and skills transfer.”

Dr Eddie O’Connor, Mainstream’s Chief Executive said,”There’s nothing new to this. There’s already 150 GW of wind energy installed around the globe and it’s growing by 30 GW per annum, employing over 400,000 people worldwide. This is a highly reliable, competitive and scalable form of power generation with zero long-term fuel risks and highly predictable long-term power generation capabilities.”
He continued,” Mainstream is prepared to invest large quantities of capital to build these sustainable energy assets, but we need to see long-term targets and a clear, investor-friendly regulatory environment. South Africa still needs transparent grid connection and queuing processes.”
“We are very encouraged by the government’s work to date to promote renewable energies and encourage new independent power producers into the market and we look forward to continuing to facilitate and work with government on these activities.”

Additional information: Mainstream web site
News date: 01/12/2009

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