EC networking session ignites wind energy collaboration

The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) and the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT), with its agency, the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) successfully hosted a significant networking event on 21 November 2023 in Jeffreys Bay.

Titled, “Turbine Talks: Powering the Future of Wind Energy”, the event forms part of a series of SAWEA’s networking events that aim to shed light on the socioeconomic benefits of wind energy in South Africa.

The province is currently home to 17 operational wind farms. Three more are currently in the construction phase, while several others are earmarked for construction in the near future.

As such, the collaboration with SAWEA is essential as it enables us to collectively advocate for investment in wind power within the province, as well as promote socio-economic development and transformation through wind power.

The event served as a platform to unite key stakeholders from the business sector, wind farm developers and operators, provincial government representatives, and contributors across the wind energy value chain in the Eastern Cape.

Its primary focus was to foster continued growth within the wind energy industry in the province, emphasising collaboration and celebrating the sector’s achievements.

Noteworthy accomplishments highlighted during the event include the Eastern Cape’s success in attracting significant investments totalling R14.2 billion, sourced from Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE), Qualifying Small Enterprises (QSEs), Exempt Micro Enterprises (EMEs), and women-owned businesses.

In addition, the province has witnessed an extra investment of R500.6 million for socio-economic development (SED) and R381.6 million for ED initiatives. In effect, R10.1 billion has been invested in local content.

While acknowledging these achievements, the stakeholders underscored the abundant opportunities for further investment in the Eastern Cape. DEDEAT and its government partners, in collaboration with SAWEA, aim to foster a cooperative operational environment for the wind sector in the province.

Key discussion points during the session included wind energy project development, job creation, potential projects in the pipeline, collaboration efforts between entities and impactful Enterprise Development and Socio-Economic Development (ED/SED) initiatives and processes.

Key considerations for the province include grid access, wind farm project development permitting processes, construction logistics, power producer and intergovernmental relations, green hydrogen potential, job creation and value chain development.

In attendance were representatives from key institutions such as the Office of the Premier of the Eastern Cape, SAWEA members – Globeleq, Mulilo, SP Wind, Wind OEMs (Nordex and Vestas), IPPs, local and provincial government bodies, Eastern Cape Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Eastern Cape Department of Transport, Eskom (Tx), Transnet representatives, and other relevant stakeholders.

The event culminated with a visit to Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm where site management presented the history of the farm, ED and SED initiatives undertaken by the wind farm in the local community as well as conservation initiatives such as Shut Down on Demand (SDoD), Curtailment and Blade Patterning.

Attendees were then taken for a tour of the site which included the interior of a wind turbine and the substation infrastructure.

DEDEAT remains committed to propelling the Eastern Cape’s wind energy sector forward through meaningful industry engagements with strategic partners such as SAWEA.

The successful networking event is a testament to this and marks a significant step towards exploring the full potential of renewable energy in the province.