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The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) has come out in support of the recent request by the Department of Energy for NERSA to licence businesses to generate power and feed it into the national grid.  

This commendable step by the Minister will contribute to further decentralisation and democratisation of the South African electricity sector. It will open the market to smaller-scale renewable energy projects with a significant level of local ownership. Watch: Jeff Radebe on SA’s energy landscape

“The small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) market has the potential to support the industrialisation efforts stimulated by the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REI4P) and contribute to job creation,” says Ntombifuthi Ntuli, SAWEA Board Member and Research Group Leader: Energy Industry, CSIR Energy Centre.

A recent SAWEA study that investigated the value proposition of distributed generation renewable energy estimated the job creation potential for wind energy SSEG projects at 207 jobs during 1 year of construction and 127 permanent jobs during operations, for a combined capacity of 50MW projects.

If the wind industry deploys 50MW per annum over a 10-year period, it can create 4,840 jobs. This is over and above the jobs created in the REI4P market segment.

The study estimated that between 40MW and 75MW per annum could be generated from behind-the-meter grid-tied wind energy projects, while it estimated 135MW per annum for projects wheeling electricity from remote wind energy sites.

This could plug the demand gaps created by the stop-start nature of the REI4P and create a certain level of continuity in the renewable energy market.