10 January 2012 – On the 1st of January 2012 GL Garrad Hassan opened its first office in South Africa, this because of the country’s burgeoning wind power industry. The group believes South Africa is suited for renewable energy development, given its abundant wind and solar resources, ample number of suitable sites and modern high voltage electrical infrastructure.

Helmut Klug, regional manager Central Europe, Middle East and Africa of GL Garrad Hassan says, "South Africa represents one of the most active regions in Africa for wind and solar developments and is notably the first country in the world where we are involved in as many solar as wind projects."

The company has been working in South Africa for a number of years, with projects dating back to the 1990s. It helped develop the first wind map for South Africa together with other partners, including the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

In the period leading up to and subsequently after the Renewable Energy Independent Power
Producer Procurement Program (RPPPP) process GL Garrad Hassan undertook a number of energy assessments and project reviews for both wind and solar projects (well in excess of 1.0 GW for each technology) in the region.

South African public electricity utility Eskom estimates that South Africa needs to construct 40 GW of new generating capacity by 2025, of which about 12.5 GW is already under construction. At present there is only one commercial-scale wind farm (the 5.2 MW Darling wind farm) in operation, however, the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) estimates that wind power could provide as much as 20% of the country’s energy demand by 2025.

According to SAWEA, 7,000 MW of this wind capacity is already at various stages of development and many projects will be ready for construction within the next 12 to 18 months.

The recent first round of tenders which runs under the independent power producer programme for up to 3.73 GW of renewable energy procurement attracted 53 bids, according to South Africa’s Department of Energy. Of these, 28 bids were successful in obtaining preferred bidder status, totalling some 1,416 MW. A second bidding round is scheduled to close on the 5th of March 2012.