CAN WIND ENERGY OFFER REAL SOLUTIONS TO SOUTH AFRICA’s POWER TROUBLES?
I recently had the privilege to represent AIMS International’s Energy practice team and meet renewable energy business leaders from all over the world in the beautiful city of Cape Town, South Africa. The conference followed the much-awaited sign-off earlier this year by President Cyril Ramaphosa of 27 renewable energy projects located mostly in rural parts of South Africa, which would amount to R55.92 billion in new direct investment in the energy sector, creating much needed jobs.
Wind energy, currently at 2’020MW accounting for a very small percentage of South Africa’s total energy supply, shows great future potential, not only for this country but also for the rest of Africa. (The country’s integrated resource plan calls for 17’800 MW of renewable energy by 2030, which will be about 1/5th of national demand.)
More than 80% of SA’s land mass has the wind conditions to produce high load factors. It is reported that the R/kWh cost is dropping with development of new technology and coming in at least 40% less than forecast prices for Eskom’s newly built coal plants Kusile and Medupi. Consider that energy projects created 111 835 jobs for South African citizens (DoE, 2016) plus, unlike many energy projects in Africa, 98% of those selected under the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer’s Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) reached commercial operation on time. Not to talk about huge water saving benefits in a country embattled with droughts.
Looking at these facts, it does appear as if wind energy could solve many problems for South Africa, should it get the required support from investors and government.
The event enjoyed great support from the heavy weights in the turbine manufacturing industry, i.e. Siemens Gamesa who turned up with a sizeable delegation and entertained after the workshops in great style with champagne and snacks at their booth to Vestas, possibly winning the prize for best designed booth offering a variety of beer and great conversation, not to mention Enercon, who again proved to be committed to sustainable long term business and a care for their planet boasting a super ‘green’ booth with Cape reed grass, endemic to the Cape West Coast, decorating their meeting area. Various local and international suppliers to the industry were also present and at the SKF booth, the staff managed to inspire Colette Kuhn (Senior Consultant AIMS South Africa) and I with great skill and passion, showcasing their preventative maintenance monitoring system, which couples their world-renowned engineering ability with high tech data monitoring and analyses.
The two-day conference was spent listening to presentations from industry experts, exchanging ideas, making new acquaintances and cementing partnerships for future collaboration
The AIMS Energy practice supports global companies entering or up-skilling in emerging markets, where talent is often scares and in high demand. By sharing best practice and constantly ensuring we stay at the forefront of industry specific developments, our clients do not only get a search or HR expert to manage their projects, but a global team of experts who understands their industry. Positive winds are blowing for our clients in a southerly direction!