23 August 2010 – Energy Minister Dipuo Peters has rejected opinion by experts that wind power is the chief source of alternative energy that can be pursued by the country to meet its electricity demands.
Peters was responding to comments made by Eddie O’Connor during a breakfast organised by the Mail & Guardian in Rosebank, Johannesburg, recently.
O’Connor is chief executive of Mainstream Renewable Power, responsible for the Jeffery’s Bay Wind Project in Eastern Cape. He suggested that generating electricity through wind was one of the best solutions for the country’s energy needs.
"The government has to come up with a vision and the private sector must buy into it," he said.
O’Connor said South Africa should aim to have 25percent of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2025.
"Getting to the target of 25percent by 2025 entails the installation of some 3000 megawatts of wind power and this would provide the critical mass to establish a substantial local manufacturing industry, making a significant contribution to the industrial development strategy of South Africa," said O’ Connor.
He further suggested that wind farms should be integrated into one single super-grid, which would be able to replicate the ability of current coal and nuclear power stations – without many of the negative side effects.
But Peters had a different view.
"I reject with contempt O’Connor’s suggestions.
"We call on all South Africans and O’Connor in particular to realise that wind power technology is not the only available renewable energy technology," she said.
"We cannot elevate wind power above or at the expense of other energy sources. Wind belongs to the family of renewable energy sources such as, among other things, solar and hydro," Peters said.
She said her department had come up with an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP1) in December last year which indicated plans to create 10000 gigawatt hours by 2013.
The IRP1 also outlined the implementation of energy efficiency through financial incentives and the installation of one million solar water heaters, she said.
"My department has been active in the area of wind farms, however, all grid connections in this area have to follow a stipulated procedure. "Eskom will look at existing capacity before taking a particular decision on the relevant application."