CHANGE IS COMING: Another wind farm, this one with concrete towers, has come online in the Western Cape with the commissioning of the Gouda Wind Farm. It has 46 turbines capable of powering 200 000 households.

Melanie Gosling

Environment Writer

ANOTHER Western Cape wind farm has been connected to the grid with the commissioning of the 138MW Gouda wind facitilty near Tulbagh.

The R2.7bn Gouda wind farm, about 115km north east of Cape Town, is the biggest in the province so far, with 46 turbines which will generate about 400 gigawatt hours of electricity.

It has 46 turbines and is capable of powering around 200 000 households a year.

An unusual feature is that the turbines have concrete towers – the first to use concrete instead of steel – which the owners Aveng and Acciona Energia say is an advantage over the imported steel towers as the concrete towers will have more impact on the local economy.

Eskom’s 100MW Sere wind farm came online earlier this year, and last year the 27MW Dassiesklip wind farm near Caledon and the 65MW Hopefield wind farm were connected to the grid.

From the start of the Department of Energy’s renewable energy programme, the price of wind energy has dropped from R1.14 a kilowatt hour in the first round of bids from the private sector to build the power plants, to an average of 74c a kilowatt hour in the latest round.

The renewable energy plants are built at no cost to the public, and Eskom then buys the power from the private producers.

A CSIR report established that in the first half of this year, wind energy had saved the country R1.8bn more than it cost Eskom to buy the power.

It found the renewable energy sector had contributed R4 billion worth of benefits from January to June, and saved South Africa 1.4 million tons of carbon emissions.

The Northern Cape has taken the lead in renewable energy, with the highest number of solar energy projects in the country and the second highest number of wind.

Mokgadi Modise, chief director of clean energy at the Department of Energy, said yesterday there was more than 2000MW of renewable energy feeding power into the South African.

“And we have committed to another 5 000MW from the other successful bids so far, so that adds up to a total of more than 7 000MW,” Modise said.

Modise said the upcoming South Africa International Renewable Energy Conference to be held in Cape Town from October 4 to 7, would provide a platform for the country to learn from previous international experience.

“South Africa has already done so well in renewable energy, so this will be a platform for us to show our success, but more importantly, it will be a chance for us to learn. We need to see the shortfalls other have experienced, so we don’t get trapped into making similar mistakes.”

She said renewable energy had a bigger role to play than just generating electricity.

“It helps us cut greenhouse gas emissions. South Africa is among the top 15 emitters in the world, and we committed in 2009 to cut emissions by 34 percent by 2020 and 42 percent by 2025.

“Renewables give us an opportunity to help us meet these targets.”

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