New wind atlas a boon for SA renewable energy

The department of energy celebrated the launch of the latest high-resolution wind resource map at the Wind Atlas for SA (Wasa) seminar held at the East London International Convention Centre (ICC) last week.

WINDS OF CHANGE: The latest iteration of Wasa will allow the government to more effectively harness wind energy
Picture: FILE

The first wind atlas was put together in Cape Town on March 13, 2012. The new map is the third iteration.

The event was attended by members of the SA National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi), the Royal Danish Embassy, and and the United Nations Development Programme.

Department of energy acting director-general Ompi Aphane delivered the keynote address.

Aphane said the wind resource map allowed government to more effectively maximise renewable energy generation.

“It would be difficult to plan thoroughly for the increased uptake of wind energy if one does not have certainty on wind resource availability. Therefore, the need for reliable, accurate and representative data on wind is critical,” said Aphane.

Aphane went on to praise Wasa, calling it “one of the most critical elements of South Africa’s renewable energy efforts because of its contribution to the repository of knowledge about the scale and location of our wind resources”.

Wasa is made up of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), University of Cape Town (UCT), the SA Weather Service (SAWS), Danish Technical University (DTU), and the SA National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi).

“These are independent public interest organisations with no vested commercial interest in the local wind energy sector. The research conducted and products delivered are therefore not subject to any commercial interests or pressures,” said Aphane.

According to Aphane, South Africa’s current renewable energy programme is well on track thanks to the introduction of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) in 2011 which has resulted in the procurement of 6.3GW gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, with 3.9GW currently online.

“The transparent and competitive bidding nature of the REIPPPP has been the main driving force behind the reduction in costs of these renewable projects,” said Aphane.

Solar power generation has dropped by almost 80% since 2011 while onshore wind power has seen a 60% reduction in costs. he said.

This has allowed renewable energy to compete effectively with conventional energy sources, such as coal.

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