Wind energy continues to lead the energy transition from a fossil-fuel-based economy to a low-carbon renewable energy future in South Africa, with an installed capacity of 3442MW and generating more than 11 000 GWh annually through 34 operational wind farms.

With recent adverse weather conditions increasing electricity demand, wind technology has played a critical role in averting load shedding, generating almost 2 000 MW of much needed power at its peak during the first week of June 2024, which is equivalent to mitigating two stages of load shedding. Through wind, an average of 3.6 million households are powered annually.

“Having contributed 11 576 GWhs to the national grid in the 2023/2024 financial year, wind energy has demonstrated its ability to provide consistent and reliable power to the grid, making it an essential element of the country’s energy mix,” says SAWEA chief communications officer Morongoa Ramaboa.

On Global Wind Day (Saturday 15 June), the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) celebrated the sector’s achievements while advocating for the acceleration to a low-carbon future through the prioritisation of wind technology in South Africa’s energy planning.

Backed by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), Global Wind Day aims to promote wind as a clean, renewable energy resource and highlight its power and possibilities for a clean energy transition.

Through advocacy and policy reform, the wind industry in South Africa contributes significantly to South Africa’s renewable energy value chain as a more cost-effective technology. The sector also presents market opportunities such as industrialisation, local manufacturing of components, skills development and employment opportunities – critical to South Africa’s economy.

Community engagement and collaboration are critical to the success of renewable energy deployment. According to an IPP Office Focus on Wind Report 2022, the wind energy sector invested more than R898-million in socio-economic development initiatives by 2022, thereby fostering public and community support for wind energy.

To further capacitate the industry, SAWEA developed and launched a Community Engagement Handbook in 2023. The handbook provides standard operating procedures on the route to be followed by Economic Development (ED) professionals in seeking involvement in the decision-making processes that have an impact on communities and ongoing management of community relations in the life of the project (from the pre-bidding phase/conception, construction, and operations).

“Community engagement is important as it engenders trust, ensures transparency and aligns the interests of developers with those of local stakeholders. By actively involving communities, we can address concerns, share benefits and create a sense of ownership, ultimately leading to more sustainable and widely accepted energy solutions,” says Ramaboa.