South Africa’s wind energy sector is already supplying more than half a million households

Wind energy sector passes 1 gigawatt (GW) milestone with over 3GW already in pipeline

Wind energy’s success story continues into 2016 with the news that over 1 gigawatt (GW) of power is already feeding much needed electricity into the country’s grid. This figure equates to the supply of 511,000 household’s average energy consumption*.

Johan van den Berg, CEO at the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) is enthusiastic about the milestone and promises there is much more to come. “Wind energy is still a relatively new industry in South Africa and what we have achieved in such a short time is a sure indication of how much more we can do. In 2011 there were just 10 turbines in the country – now we have 13 large wind farms in operation, consisting of over 495 turbines, with many more under construction. More than 3 GW of wind energy has already been allocated through the Government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer’s Programme (REIPPPP) – and more is due to be announced shortly.”

Benefits to communities

As well as supplying non-polluting sustainable energy to the country, the REIPPPP criteria ensures that developers of renewable energy projects allocate funds to the sustainable development of nearby communities. So far ZAR 91.1 billion has been committed to development initiatives through the programme. This number will increase as more projects are procured – dates and allocations for bid Window 5 are due to be announced by the Government imminently.

Water saving

As water shortages continue to plague the country, it’s also important to know that renewable energy saves water: each kilowatt hour of renewable energy that displaces fossil fuels in the national grid, 1.2 litres of water will be saved. At full operation of the entire portfolio the programme will save 52 million litres of water each year, equal to 371 428 standard sized bathtubs.

Towards 100% renewables

This year’s theme for SAWEA’s annual conference ‘Windaba’ is ‘Towards 100% Renewables’ and van den Berg believes this is a realistic 2050 ambition: “In South Africa we have the abundant natural resources – sun and wind – for renewables to thrive, wind power is now about 40% cheaper than new coal power produced by Eskom. The extraordinary growth in procured capacity from 10 MW to 3300 MW has taken place in just four years. The rapid increase in Government’s renewables ambitions reflects not just the proven success of the programme but the economic reality that wind has become a no-brainer.  It is four to six times quicker to construct than conventional energy and infinitely safer. It’s modular and can better use existing grid capacity. It’s all built with private money and saves Government billions for the new build programme.”  



Editor’s notes:

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

*This calculation is based on household consumption of 6.000 kiloWatt hours per year (supplied by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and an average capacity factor of 35% from the wind turbines (this is a conservative figure as many turbines are performing closer to 40% plus).

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.

Information on wind energy

The 1 gigawatt of operational wind energy can be broken down as follows:

  • 649.25MW procured under REIPPPP Round 1
  • 329.68MW procured under Round 2 (further round 2 projects are still under construction)
  • 100MW Eskom’s Sere Wind Farm
  • 1.3MW Darling
  • 1.8MW Coega IDZ

The Department of Energy has committed to 13,225MW of renewable energy generation by 2025. This will be secured under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer’s Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), which has been running since 2011 and has already completed 4 successful bidding rounds.

Windaba 2016

Windaba is the official wind industry event hosted by the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) in partnership with Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). The annual conference and exhibition will take place in November 2016, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. For further information, please visit