SOUTH AFRICA – South African Wind Energy Association (Sawea), held their first in a series of webinar addressed the Role of Wind Power in SA’s Economic Recovery, post-COVID-19, which will require economic stimulus from the SA government.

Marubini Raphulu called for greater innovation and a focus on energy efficiency as well as highlighting the need for upskilling to help drive job creation in the transitioning energy sector.

Emerson Clarke, pointed out the impact of Covid-19 on the world’s energy sector and that the current crisis, threatens to overshadow the climate emergency.

Dr Grové Steyn, who is currently modelling the economic impact of such an acceleration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), argued that a large renewables-led green stimulus was one of the few substantial recovery opportunities available that did not require any fiscal resources.

He called for political will and policy certainty, to push for an accelerated renewables roll-out to deliver material economic and social benefits, while also bolstering much-needed energy security.

This will create immediate economic and employment opportunities, while opening up prospects for the domestic manufacturing of renewables components. Additionally, this roll-out will increase capital expenditure over the period to 2030 and lead to thousands of much needed jobs, which will become even more crucial post-Covid-19.

Dr Tobias Bishof-Niemz, estimated that the wind sector alone would create 25,000 construction and operations jobs in South Africa by 2030 should the 1,600MW allocation be sustained.

Jobs will also come from the manufacture of towers, blades, nacelles and gearboxes, in addition to the lion share of wind-related jobs that come from the construction and operation of wind farms.

There are currently 12 wind farm projects under construction, which are due to being reaching commercial operations later this year.

Although they were selected back in 2014, the flow of investments wasn’t activated. In 2018, the power purchase agreements were signed and these projects commenced construction. The total investment of these 12 wind farms, which accounts for 1.4GW of clean energy for the country.

The key take out from all panellists, was the strong opinion that the South African government needs to accelerate the implementation of its renewable-energy-heavy Integrated Resource Plan 2019 (IRP 2019) as part of the country’s post Covid-19 economic recovery package

To look at what this means for South Africa, and where they currently stand, following the most recently gazetted IRP 2019, has shown very little movement since late last year. In April, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) officially launched the public participation process by releasing two consultation papers for public comments.

The Wind sector sees this as significant progress, as it brings us a step closer to the procurement of new generation capacity that the country desperately needs.The IRP 2019 currently anticipates that 1 600 MW of new wind will be added yearly from 2022 to 2030 and that 1 000 MW of utility-scale solar PV would be deployed in most years over the same period.

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