Skip to main content.
Enviropaedia Sponsors and Supporters

Wind Energy

Author: South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA)

( Article Type: Explanation )

Wind energy internationally
The dependence on imported fossil fuel, unpredictable fossil fuel prices and increased concern regarding the impacts of climate change have prompted many countries and regions to implement measures to secure energy supply through diversification. Wind energy is emerging as a noticeable component of energy markets in a number of regions. Wind turbines currently generate significant portions of the electricity generated in many countries like Germany, the USA, Spain and China.
The currently installed wind power capacity generates 200 TWh per year, equalling 1,3 % of the global electricity consumption. In some countries and regions, wind energy already contributes in excess of 40 % of generating capacity. Employment in the international wind energy industry has grown from 300 000 employees in 2006 to a current 350 000 people worldwide.

Wind energy in South Africa South Africa is blessed with an excellent wind resource and a large land mass. At present the Integrated Resource Plan 2010 envisions about 9,000 MW of installed wind power by 2030. This will make SA a significant player in the international wind market. Government procurement for this kicked off in August 2011 and it is projected that the first large scale, commercial wind farms will reach commissioning in 2013.

Environmental and economic benefits
Reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions: CO2 is produced when fossil fuels like coal and natural gas are combusted to generate electricity. Using wind to generate electricity avoids CO2 emissions.
Reduced sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions: SO2 is a by product of burning fossil fuels. In the atmosphere it can react with other chemicals to form acidic compounds (‘acid rain’). Using wind to generate electricity avoids such SO2 emissions.
Reduced use of non-renewable energy: Wind energy does not deplete natural resources. Wind is renewed every day as the earth heats and cools. We save about half a kilogram of coal for every kilowatt-hour generated by wind. The energy needed to build wind turbines is quickly recovered: The energy generated by wind turbines balances with the energy used to make them in a matter of months

Job Creation: Wind power projects create many more jobs per Kilowatt of energy produced – than current, coal-based energy production.

Growing South African Industry: South Africa has the capacity to develop its own wind turbine manufacturing and related industry where many of the components can be manufactured locally.

For more information see:;;;