Wind turbine technicians graduate

June 19th, 2017, Published in Articles: Energize


Speaking at the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre’s (SARETEC) Wind Turbine Service Technician graduation ceremony, which took place on Global Wind Day, 15 June 2017, the South African Wind Energy Association’s (SAWEA’s) CEO, Brenda Martin, addressed graduates and affirmed the relevance of youth development in the future of the Wind energy sector and South Africa. This is an extract from her address.

Brenda Martin

Having been set up to meet the needs of SA’s fledgling renewable power industry in 2015, SARETEC has established a world-class renewable energy training facility and is now graduating Renewable Energy technicians that are able to work anywhere in the world.

Nordex Acciona, a global wind power company, funded 15 of the 18 graduates from SARETEC’s internationally recognised programme. The remaining three graduates were funded by SANEDI (the South African National Energy Development Institute). Through this practical support, the two organisations have proven their commitment to the realisation of transformation in the industry.

As an industry, it is essential that we continue our track-record of job-creation and local value achieved to date. It is worth noting that of the over 26 000 jobs created in the first four years of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), 47% of jobs were for young people and women. The South African renewable energy industry is one of the few local industries which continues to create jobs.

Martin said that the graduates had decided to expand their repertoire of skills by pursuing this qualification, and that it was encouraging to note their recognition of the importance of developing a capacity to work with, rather than resist, uncertainty and change.

Members of SARETEC’s class of June 2017 had chosen to pursue a wind turbine technician qualification for various reasons and have diverse professional backgrounds, she said, but they shared a common capacity to adapt. Beyond career choices, adaptability, will continue to be a key capacity.

Beyond the Wind Industry, South Africans have experienced quite a lot of policy and economic uncertainty of late. Within the renewable energy sector as a whole, policy uncertainty has increasingly touched communities, companies, and young people seeking career certainty over the past two years. Whether the industry will be able to recover from the effects of this delay, remains to be seen. Their interest in the continued growth of the wind industry will be an important motivator as we undertake the work of recovery.

Policy certainty is crucial to the continued growth of any industry. In South Africa, it can greatly strengthen common capacity to achieve developmental objectives. But when policy certainty is lacking, in a world characterised by multi-faceted acceleration, individual adaptability is foregrounded.

The capacity to choose what makes sense from a household, community and company affordability perspective alone will definitively re-shape consumer behaviour and consumption choice. This is particularly true within the key sector of power supply, she said. The skills acquired can be applied in South Africa, but can also be applied in the wind industry anywhere in the world.

Martin reminded the graduates of what the South African wind industry had achieved:

  • Renewable energy had produced 15 220 GWh, of which wind projects had contributed just over 50%.
  • In just three years South Africa had become the largest wind power producer on the continent, generating 1,4 GW from over 600 wind turbines.
  • Wind power avoids the power-related use of water by around 600 Ml/year.
  • The REIPPPP has also created over 26 000 jobs, 47% for young people and women.
  • While the programme implementation has been delayed by a protracted impasse with Eskom, the many initial developmental impacts can grow exponentially, once the outstanding Power Purchase Agreements are signed.

Contact Brenda Martin, SAWEA, Tel 011 214-0664,




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