By Climate Scorecard South Africa Country Manager Andrew Hall
Presently, the largest combined renewable energy source in South Africa is wind energy with a combined total capacity of 2,078 MegaWatts (MW) generated by approximately 23 wind farms throughout the country. By 2030 it is projected that wind energy will make up to 22.7% of South Africa’s energy mix with a total generation capacity of 17,742 MW (as outlined in the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan). Wind energy has become more competitive in recent years as a result of technology price developments and a downward price trend in production.
One of the largest of these renewable energy producers, with a cost of 3.5 billion South Africa Rands, is the Kangnas Wind Farm which is situated in the Northern Cape Province. Beginning its operations in November 2020, the project is managed by Mainstream Asset Management South Africa. The wind farm has a total of 61 Siemens SWT-2.3-108 wind turbines which produce 140 MW of clean renewable energy which powers 154,625 homes. The wind farm eliminates an estimated 550,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually in comparison to power plants that use fossil fuels; additionally the energy generation process requires virtually no water, an advantage in a water scarce country.
The wind farm has provided 550 jobs and has also dedicated 2.8% of its revenue to socio-economic development within the community, as well as a further 0.2% on enterprise development over the next 20 years from the time of operations. Additionally, 2.5% of the wind farm is owned by the local community trust.
Renewable energy sources, such as wind energy, are cheaper to install and cheaper to sell to customers than that of traditional fossil fuels. In comparison to the most competitively priced new coal plant construction at present, a wind energy plant is roughly 30% cheaper to build when translated to a cost per unit of electricity produced by each technology.