No wind energy in SA without Danish – expert

Cape Town – Without help from the Danish and other key investors, South Africa might not have had a wind energy sector, Karen Breytenbach, head of the Department of Energy’s Independent Power Producer (IPP) office, said at the Windaba on Wednesday.

This was echoed by Johan van den Berg, CEO of the SA Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), who added that the reason why wind power progressed in SA between 1997 and 2008 was almost entirely due to the Danish. Nevertheless, it took about ten years to get the first commercial wind farm – in Darling – approved.

Denmark has been assisting the SA government with the development of wind energy since 2013. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark was also present as part of the Danish delegation at Windaba.

At the opening of the Windaba, Denmark’s Minister for Business and Growth Troels Lund Poulsen, told delegates that about 40% of Denmark’s electricity is derived from wind energy and this share is expected to increase to 50% by 2020.

“Denmark is a world leader in wind energy and our goal is to be independent of coal by 2050,” said Poulsen. “The wind atlas shows SA has a huge potential to benefit from wind energy, but for the country to resolve its energy issues our solutions in wind energy are needed. We look forward to more future co-operation with the SA government in this regard.”

Another international player in the SA wind energy industry is Nordex, a manufacturer of high yield wind turbines for all windregimes and headquartered in Hamburg, Germany.

“The good news is that the IPP set-up for renewable energy is a story of success in SA as it is ahead of other markets in general,” Anne Henschel, managing director of Nordex Energy South Africa, told Fin24 at Windaba.

“We are now in our fourth year in SA and we receive good feedback from Eskom that renewable energy can now help to avoid further load shedding.”

She said sometimes there are complaints about a lack of skills in the local wind energy industry, but added that one must remember it took Europe about ten years to set up its industry.

“It is, therefore, a step-by-step development, which is good,” she said.

“SA projects also provide opportunities to give back to communities and help with socio-economic upliftment in SA.”

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