South Africa - Electricity sector turns to wind energy

Work soon to start on the first comprehensive wind resources map of the 3 000km South African coastline

The winds of change are here for the country's fledgling clean energy industry, with work soon to start on the first comprehensive wind resources map of the 3 000km South African coastline.

Wind energy experts suggest that one of the main obstacles to the growth of this technology is the lack of information about the most suitable sites for wind turbines. The four-year wind atlas research project will plot wind speeds and frequencies along the coast. Work is due to begin later this month and the first draft map is expected by early 2010.

The project is partly sponsored by the Danish government, which will host a seminar in Pretoria on January 23 to promote wind energy.

In Denmark, wind energy is used to generate almost one fifth of the country's electricity needs.

Eskom has confirmed plans to start construction of a 100MW wind-energy farm with 50 turbines at Koekenaap near Lutzville later this year. However, the Koekenaap project and the existing wind farm in Darling (which is sold to Cape Town) will generate little more than 0,3 percent of Eskom's present capacity of 40 000MW of electricity.

Carsten Laugesen, environment and development counsellor at the Royal Danish embassy, said the lack of information about wind frequencies and wind speeds along the South African coast hindered development of wind farms, but the new mapping project was expected to fill in many of these knowledge gaps.

Because the cost of erecting giant wind gauges was prohibitive, Laugesen said the atlas project would rely predominantly on computer modelling and analysis of almost 40 years' worth of meteorological data.

For more information, please contact Trevor Sievert at ts@windfair.net
Online editorial www.windfair.net
Posted by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
wind energy, renewable energy, jobs, wind turbine, wind power, wind farm, rotorblade, onshore, offshore

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