Windaba 2014: full range of RE technologies to tackle energy crisis

October 31st, 2014, Published in Articles: Energize

 

As Eskom continues to declare regular “emergencies” and black outs persist, renewable energy including wind, has the potential to rescue the situation over the next five years – we just need to mix small and large scale technologies, says the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA).

Windaba (Cape Town international conference centre, 3 to 5 November 2014) will provide access to a broad range of topics with the view to a robust and sustainable wind energy sector. All calculations indicate that SA’s current electricity supply cannot provide the power the country needs to grow its economy to its full potential.

The country’s renewable energy procurement programme (REIPPPP) has procured thousands of megawatts (MW) in the last three years at increasingly competitive rates with more in the pipeline. Many turbines are already providing power to the grid. Local content levels are close to 50% resulting in huge spin-offs in the supply chain to a wide variety of large and small South African companies and also individuals, boosting the flagging economy. The obstacle to filling the energy gap with renewable energy is timing.

Frank Spencer, chair of SAWEA’s technical working group and speaker at Windaba says that the disparity between the success of the REIPPPP and the energy shortage of the country relates to the time energy is generated versus the time at which it is most in need. Wind plants often deliver energy during peak periods but are obviously dependent on the wind blowing. Solar photovoltaic plants deliver their maximum output around the middle of the day. Solar thermal power can be stored, but the construction time for such plants is longer than for the aforementioned technologies and there is some work to do in bringing down costs, he says.

The solution is to maximise the energy output from renewable sources to impact the grid at peak times. Alongside commercial-scale renewable power plants there is huge potential for small scale technologies to relieve pressure on the grid. Spencer added that SA has one of the best climates in the world for solar energy and the potential to install millions of solar water heaters at very affordable rates in a short period of time. He says that water should be heated by the sun rather than by electricity to reduce the use diesel peaking plants. Furthermore, solar PV can store power in batteries to feed back into the grid during peak hours at significantly less than the cost of power generated from peaking plants.

Windaba is Africa’s largest wind energy platform hosted by the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) in partnership with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

Contact Kirsten Francis,  Windaba, Tel 021 448-5226, kirsten@windaba.co.za

 

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