December 2015

Paris not the final throw of climate dice

AS THE climate negotiations draw to a close in a shell-shocked Paris, the international community have hung each country’s pledges on the climate Christmas tree. We’re left to do the maths, to see where it gets us. The answer will probably be that the pledges combine to limit warming to 2.7°C-3.7°C over pre-industrial times, and that the ultimate deal isn’t legally binding in any strong sense of the word.

For many in the climate movement, Paris was the “last tango”, the implication being that if we don’t get it done in Paris, that’s it.


Windaba 2015 – Growing wind industry gathers to “power the winds of change”

In the year that wind power helped to keep South Africa’s lights on at a cost less than zero (see CSIR ref: below), approximately five hundred international and local delegates will gather in Cape Town’s CTICC on 4-5 November to discuss the accomplishments, challenges and future of South Africa’s flourishing wind energy sector. The Minister of Energy the Honourable Tina Joemat-Petterssen is the patron of the event and will be opening it.

“In a narrow sense we as SA Incorporated are electricity constrained and we must plot how wind power can best contribute to further alleviating this challenge”, explains Heather Sonn, Chair of the South African Wind Energy Association, the custodian of Windaba. “In the broad sense…”, she continues, “… the country through the National Development Plan is driving at a developmental state based on a public private partnership that delivers sustainable development from the ground up. This is exactly what is happening in the wind sector in South Africa. Therefore the conference theme: ‘Powering the winds of change’.”

Sonn’s assertions are clearly supported by the facts. As a consequence of a world class procurement programme the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer’s Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), the broader Renewable Energy Industry has attracted R193 billion in private sector investment since 2012. R53.2billion (28%) of this total comes from abroad – totalling 85.8% of total direct foreign investment in South Africa last year.

There are more than 400 wind turbines spinning across the country: 13 wind farms totalling 953MW feeding desperately needed power to our ailing electricity grid. All of these developments have been built through private investment, costing the tax payer nothing.

The good news story doesn’t end there. The renewable energy projects procured so far under the REIPPPP have already committed R91.1 billion to various development initiatives including socio-economic development and enterprise development.

Local communities (within a 50 kilometer radius of developments) are already substantial beneficiaries of renewables, with an average shareholding of 10.5% in renewable projects. This constitutes more than four times the obligated minimum of 2.5% which forms part of the criteria of the REIPPPP.

These figures will escalate significantly as more projects are procured – an extra 6300 megawatts (MW) of capacity across technologies was allocated to the REIPPPP by the Department of Energy earlier this year, taking the total allocation to 13,225 MW on target to be generated by 2025. It is likely wind power as the lowest cost option will continue to contribute close to 50% of renewable energy procured.

The REIPPPP is bringing renewable energy to South Africa much faster and cheaper than new-build coal. Construction times for projects average less than two years, and the electricity price paid to projects has declined around 68% within three years.

The price of wind energy in Round 4(a) was R619/MWh almost 40% cheaper than forecast prices for Eskom’s new-build coal plants Medupi and Kusile, which are also experiencing significant delays and won’t be fully operational until 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Windaba demonstrates the benefits of effective public-private collaboration. The very distinguished list of speakers include local and international captains of industry but also a very strong contingent of public sector contributors, starting with the Minister of Energy. The two day conference will provide a forum for discussion about the wind sector’s progress, key issues and challenges and knowledge sharing, as well as business-to-business engagements.

The exhibition is now sold out, but there is still time to register as a delegate at

Sonn’s ‘lofty’ renewable energy ideals

  / 20 October 2015 at 07:02am

Melanie Gosling | Environment Writer

HEATHER Sonn,  chair of  the SA Wind Energy Association’s (Sawea) board, is upbeat about renewable energy – and not just because costs have come down to make it competitive with coal.

What makes this form of electricity generation different are the spin-offs for socio-economic development.

“And I am also struck by the alignment of renewable energy with several international policies, such as alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals,” Sonn said.


Danish minister confirmed for Windaba as industry rides high on wave of SAIREC success

As the renewables industry rides the waves of SAIREC’s recent success in Cape Town, those focussing specifically on the wind industry have even more reason to attend Windaba given Government’s most recent statement that the future of Africa is in ‘the hands of energy’.

The Danish Minister for Business and Growth, Troels Lund Poulsen has recently confirmed his attendance and he will join Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson in introducing the conference during the opening session.

Windaba’s conference programme is packed full of pertinent industry topics and will provide a thought provoking forum for sharing views and discussing the issues which affect our flourishing market. It’s a must for delegates wanting to ensure they are at the cutting edge of the industry’s most recent news and growth.

Windaba is hosted by South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) in proud partnership with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). The conference will take place from 4-5 November 2015 at the Cape Town International Conference Centre.

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Powering the Winds of Change’ which aims to  reflect the industry’s conviction that wind energy can fill South Africa’s current energy gap with low cost, clean electricity which can be brought on grid within a relatively short time frame.

The flagship conference attracts wind industry professionals from all over the world, with more than 500 delegates attending in 2014.

To book your participation contact Yolanda Adams:

Wind energy has saved South Africa R1.8 billion more than it cost in first half of 2015 – and is actually making Eskom money

The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) has welcomed and endorsed a new report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on the (ZAR 1.8 billion) less-than-zero costs of renewable energy to the country.  The CSIR has just released its latest calculations on the increasing savings these technologies are achieving. Collectively wind energy and solar power (photovoltaic) saved ZAR 4 billion from January to June this year.  Wind energy produced net savings of ZAR 1.8 billion and was also cash positive for Eskom by ZAR 300 million.

The report is a follow up of the original study which was published in January this year and covered 2014. The figure for net savings attributed to renewables then was ZAR 800 million over 12 months. The latest figures demonstrate clearly that the benefits renewables bring to South Africa are increasing all the time as more developments connect to the grid – now bringing 10 times more financial benefit than last year.

The benefits of renewables for the electricity market are calculated in two ways: Firstly, diesel and coal fuel cost savings which total ZAR 3.6 billion created by the 2.0 terrawatt-hours (TWh) of solar and wind energy that replaced what would otherwise have been fossil fuel-generated power. Secondly the saving to the economy through avoiding ‘unserved energy’ (load shedding). This totals 203 hours in which consumers’ energy would have been curtailed had wind and solar energy not been providing power to the grid. These macroeconomic benefits are calculated at ZAR 4.6 billion.

These savings more than offset the tariff costs associated with wind and solar projects that are providing power to the grid which reached ZAR 4.3 billion. All the above result in a net benefit of ZAR 4 billion brought to the electricity market.

SAWEA CEO Johan van den Berg describes the findings as “more good news” for the industry: “The fact that we can now show the dramatic increase in the benefits that wind energy bring to the grid adds to the increasingly widespread view within government, industry and among consumers that renewables are the answer to our country’s energy problems. When we add the approximately ZAR 16 billion that these wind, solar, hydro and biomass projects will invest into enterprise development and socio-economic development for communities close to projects, we have a winning formula that is being recognised and admired globally.”

Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz, who heads up the CSIR’s Energy Centre, explains: “The study was based on actual hourly production data for the different supply categories of the South African power system (e.g. coal, diesel, wind, PV). We've developed a methodology at the CSIR Energy Centre to determine whether at any given hour of the year, renewables have replaced coal or diesel generators, or whether they have even prevented so-called ‘unserved energy’”

The release of these figures represents an increasingly positive environment for renewable energy in South Africa this year. It follows a government announcement in May that an additional 6,300 MW of renewable energy would be procured, over and above the existing 5243 MW’s that have taken the REIPPPP process to its current status at the end of Round 4.

The cost of wind energy is now between 60-70 cents per kilowatt hour (KWh) with solar managing to get close to 80 cents. Wind energy is now close to 50% cheaper than the predicted costs of new build coal powered stations Medupi and Kusile.

The full report can be found on the CSIR website here


Editor’s notes:

For further information or to interview Johan Van den Berg, please mail: or call +27 (0) 11 2140664.

Follow us on Twitter @_sawea

SAWEA is a non-profit, industry organisation representing the wind industry in South Africa. Its members include both national and international entities active in the entire wind energy supply chain. Its aim is to promote the sustainable use of commercial wind energy in South Africa; to contribute knowledge and human resources to the streamlining of the policy and regulatory framework for wind in SA; to facilitate synergy between the growth of the industry and the achievement of the broader socio-economic aims of Government (including training, job creation and localisation); to disseminate information; to act as a focal point for discussion between members, government, the media and the public.
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