On skills development, a ZAR 105 million training centre is in the final stages of planning at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the funds to do so have been secured. At present the first tranche of wind turbine service technicians are being trained in Germany and simultaneously, the accredited course material for future training in South Africa is being finalised by the MERSETA, with assistance from the industry.
Thus, bedding down the value chain in South Africa is well underway. It seems certain that in a few years, South Africa will have a wind sector that will be seen internationally as a significant and important one.
Once it is known that the sector will establish itself and exist for the long term, the questions arise: How large can it be? How deep will run the broader benefits to SA Inc?
The Integrated Resource Plan envisions a wind sector of about 9,000 MW by 2030 – significant by any measure. However, given the splendid wind resource and our country’s large landmass plus the fact that wind is now the cheapest source of new electricity at scale, the industry is confident that more can be done. The ultimate sector can be larger and the rate of growth faster.
On the socio-economic front, the plans put forward by successful REIPPPP projects will yield very significant benefits to communities around wind farms by 2030 – again the questions arise of whether more can be done or whether the same can be done, but faster.
These questions form the context for the theme of Windaba 2013, being “Expanding Horizons”. The theme is apt also in at least two other respects. The first is that SAWEA will be incorporating a new focus on small scale wind applications in South Africa and will be launching its Small Scale Working Group at Windaba 2013. Secondly, SAWEA believes that our country’s drive towards establishing job opportunities and local manufacturing in the wind industry should recognise the potential that exists in off-grid and mini-grid systems on the African continent, where about 690 million people still need to be electrified.
For this reason Windaba 2013 includes a side event on the subject, supported by a host of international agencies and aimed at quantifying the business opportunity inherent in providing these fellow African with “Sustainable Energy for All”, as the UN has set out to do.
The programme for Windaba 2013 and list of exhibitors both reflect the fact that wind power in South Africa has progressed to a completely different level. The ambition is to continue to increase the scale at which we operate and at which we provide benefits to the country at large.