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South Africa


General Information The Republic of South Africa is about twice the size of Texas and has a population of about 42.7 million. South Africa is located at the southern tip of Africa, and is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe to the north, Mozambique and Swaziland to the east, the Indian Ocean to the Southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the Southwest. The country of Lesotho is completely enclaved in the east-central part of South Africa. South Africa consists of nine provinces; these are shown in Figure 1. The capital city, Pretoria, is located in the northeast part of the country and has a population of about 526,000. South Africa's currency, the Rand, has an exchange rate of about 7.17 Rands per U.S. dollar (as of October 2003). The GDP (based on purchasing power parity) is $412 billion, which ranks it 20th among 212 countries and territories.

Wind Energy

South Africa has the potential to become a "wind powerhouse" because of its abundance of wind resources, available land and existing infrastructure, says Hermann Oelsner, an independent electricity producer on a wind farm near Darling, north of Cape Town. Our huge wind resources and the short time it takes to build wind farms makes wind energy a sensible option, says Oelsner, chairman of the Darling Independent Power Producer company. He says a 100MW wind farm can be built in a year...more>>

However, South Africa does not yet commercially generate electricity from wind power. About 400 kilowatts (kW) of small wind turbines for power generation have been installed, but are not yet connected to the power grid. Current uses of wind power include about 300,000 wind pumps for livestock and community water use. Significant potential exists for generating electricity from wind energy, however, especially along the coasts and the Drakensberg escarpment, which have average annual wind speeds in excess of 4 meters per second (m/s) with some localized areas having speeds greater than 6 m/s. The areas near Cape Town and Durban have the best potential for wind sites. Eskom and the Department of Minerals and Energy are investigating the possibilities for use of wind power for electricity generation. A study has been conducted in the Darling district of the Western Cape for constructing a wind farm and connecting it to the national grid. The project is now in the investment phase. The government is examining wind farms as a means of addressing peak loads on the national electricity grid...more>>



Pumping water - the traditional use of wind energy windmill

Mechanical water pumping windmills have been manufactured in South Africa since 1871. It is estimated that more than 300,000 windmills are installed, and that more than 90% of these were manufactured locally. The wind pumps are situated in areas with mean annual wind speeds as low as 3 m/s. The water is used predominantly for livestock. The wind pumps are highly reliable, with an annual maintenance cost in the order of 5% of capital cost, a lifetime of 30 years for components such as the gearbox, wheel and tail, stub tower and windmill tower, and 10 years for the pump itself...more>>

Wind power for remote areas

The government intends to provide electricity to all South African citizens before 2010, and the present number of non-electrified households is approximately 3 million. The current costs of supplying electricity to remote areas, such as via grid extensions, stand-alone solar home systems etc., ranges from 1-3 Rands/kWh (US $0.13-0.39/kWh). In this economic environment, wind power as stand-alone or in mini-grid systems could be competitive...more>>

Wind resources

Whereas the traditional, multi-bladed wind-powered pumps operate at the moderate wind speeds experienced over most of the country, sufficient wind resources for economical generation of electricity are only found along the coastline and the Drakensberg escarpment. The coastal and escarpment areas were identified as having a mean annual wind speed of greater than 4 metres/second at 10 metres above ground level (see Figure 1). Information on sites with higher potential was insufficient to mobilize interest in wind power...more>>


Figure 1. Wind map showing annual average wind speeds
more than 4 m/s at 10 metres above ground level.

Potential Wind Resources: Total Electric Usage (2002) Population (July 2003) Energy usage /person/year
N/A 181,200 GWh 42,768,678 4.2367 MWh

Energy Conversion:

1 TWh (terawatt-hour) 1000 GWh (gigawatt-hour)
1 GWh (gigawatt-hour) 1000 MWh (megawatt-hour)
1 MWh (megawatt-hour) 1000 KWh (kilowatt-hour)
1 KWh (kilowatt-hour) 1000 Wh (watt-hour)

References and Additional Information about Wind Resources in South Africa:

Renewable Energy World - Wind Energy in South Africa:
Fossile Energy - An Energy Overview of the Republic of South Africa:
Energy Breakdown Chart of South Africa: Energy Chart
Energy Grid Map of South Africa

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Updated: 2016/06/30

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