Electricity in the WindBy Mike Joubert 9 February 2011 | Categories: interviews
Darling Wind Farm, situated 70 km north of Cape Town, is one of only a few renewable energy projects operating in SA. TechSmart talked to Nicolas Rolland, director of wind farm management company G7 renewable energies, about this green initiative.
TechSmart: Darling Wind Farm has four wind turbines generating power right now, with plans for a further six. When will they be ready to go?
Nicolas Rolland: The plan to extend the wind farm with another six turbines are still at study level; before implementing such a plan various outstanding points need clarification such as the type of turbines to be used, the electricity tariff applicable and the extent to which it applies.
The current produced by the wind turbines is sold at an very low tariff of R0.41/kWh which places the project financial viability at risk. Even though one could reach some economies of scale with the extension of the current wind park, the future electricity tariff will need adjustment.
TS: Is the wind power industry growing?
NR: Wind energy has been showing double digit growth over the last two decades and is expected to keep the same pace for the years to come. Climate change mitigation is on the agenda of most nations, including South Africa, with wind power remaining the most reliable and cost effective renewable energy source for the time being.
TS: What is the wind energy potential in SA?
NR: Wind energy in South Africa has a great potential thanks to the size of the country but also some exceptionally windy areas securing consistent wind energy resources at any time transformed and supplied to the national grid.
The industry can also be increasingly localised in SA as we have the skills and means available in the country to manufacture such equipment locally.
TS: From your perspective - what are the best solutions for SA's energy crisis?
NR: More wind parks is what I see as optimal in assisting to solve the current crisis. We have nothing to lose, all to gain! Wind power projects can be implemented way quicker than any other power plants – it took only 104 days for a wind turbine to be commissioned from a green field near Port Elizabeth last year.
It also has the long-term potential to allow the localisation of an entire industry, instead of relying on overseas supply and sometimes extremely specialised engineering.
TS: Are there any other renewable energy sources that gets you excited?
NR: There are various other renewable energy technologies available such as solar, biomass, wave and tidal energy. The most likely to be implemented on a large scale is solar energy, as the technology is now reaching maturity, along with biomass.
I believe that the combination of these technologies will make it possible in the future to completely discard all fossil fuel generations (coal, gas, nuclear) and provide for energy independence along with health benefits. Of course it will also help to reduce climate change effects such as the increased floods, droughts and natural disasters we are witnessing increasingly across the world.
Darling Wind Farm - Quick Facts
- In one year the four wind turbines produce the yearly electricity consumption of 700 average SA households.
- Length of the blades = 32 m, slightly more than the length of a tennis court.
- The turbines start producing power at a wind speed of 8 km/h, reaching full potential at 54 km/h, and starts shutting down at 97 km/h.
- The blades rotate slowly at a constant speed of 32 revolutions per minute regardless of the wind speed.
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