17 October 2013 – South Africa’s Eastern Cape has been able to capitalise on the employment opportunities offered by the country’s burgeoning wind power sector. This is especially during the construction phase of the various wind farm projects, which require large numbers of labour from the local communities.

Independent power producer, Jeffreys Bay wind farm, one of the Eastern Cape’s largest wind farms, currently employs almost 250 people from the various local communities on site. “By employing local residents and providing on-the-job training, which can be applied at other future wind energy production projects planned in the Eastern Cape, this industry is able to make a positive difference in the lives of literally hundreds of families,” Leo Quinn, project manager of Jeffreys Bay wind farm, says.

During August 2013, at the peak of construction, there were 602 people working on site, 45% of which were from the local communities in the Kouga municipality. The workforce at Jeffreys Bay wind farm is fairly large due to the high level of activity currently on site, which includes the erection of the wind turbines, general construction activities as well as the transportation and off-loading of the turbine components. “We expect to be extremely busy for the next few months with a wide range of construction activities and rely heavily on our local workforce,” Quinn says.

During the twenty year operation period of the wind farm, the project will create permanent jobs, albeit fewer than during the construction phase. Additional indirect jobs will be created for local manufacturers and suppliers during the lifespan of this the project.

Jeffreys Bay wind farm began erecting the first of its 80 m tall turbines in August 2013. The project is one of the first wind farms arising from the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme and is expected to start supplying electricity to the national grid by mid-2014.