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South Africa’s renewables eco-system all set for growth

Following the signing of the outstanding power purchase agreements last month, South Africa’s manufacturing and construction industries in particular, will see benefit.

According to the wind energy sector, it follows that the recovery and growth of the domestic manufacturing industry is critical, given its potential to increase investment, create jobs and drive down the price of renewable technology and a prime example of this is the proposed Green Technology Special Economic Zone, in Atlantis, on the Western Cape’s West Coast.

“The creation of a Green Technology Special Economic Zone (SEZ) was a deliberate attempt to create manufacturing, broadly in the green economy, and with specific opportunities in renewables,” says Mike Mulcahy, chief executive of GreenCape.


Renewables have a proven track record globally of job creation – 8.1 million jobs by 2015, with the promise of much more.

The first round of REI4P attracted ten times the interest expected; by the second round, the localisation benefits really began to show. Each major manufacturing initiative seeded an entire ecosystem around it, which included small and medium-sized enterprises making ancillary components, as well as training facilities to grow the necessary skills – one such is SARETEC, the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre housed in the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

By 2015, the overall industry was employing some 28,000 people, according to the Atlantis SEZ Project Officer, Thabo Thulare. In Atlantis alone, over 220 jobs were created by an international company investing in manufacturing wind towers.

Brenda Martin, CEO of South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) explained: “Recent uncertainty about the future of the REI4P has stalled the momentum on the growth of the SA RE Industry. However, given the new dawn of possibility for achieving SA energy security through a diverse power mix, we are ready to contribute to our full capacity as soon as possible.”

Set for growth

The majority of the Loeriesfontein Wind Farm and Khobab Wind Farm’s wind turbine tower sections were manufactured by GRI (Gestamp Renewable Industries) Towers South Africa in Atlantis, Western Cape [See featured image]. Read more: Loeriesfontein Wind Farm achieves construction milestone

In order to meet demand, the R300 million facility underwent major expansion allowing an increased production output of 20%. This expansion was funded by foreign direct investment into South Africa. Furthermore, local employment was upped, along with a training and skills transfer programme to teach scarce skills.

The locally manufactured sections mean that Khobab Wind Farm and Loeriesfontein Wind Farm were able to achieve local content commitments exceeding 40% of the project’s total value. Local content has a vital role to play in the long-term growth of the renewable energy sector and its positive impact on the country.

“The Wind energy industry is commitment to working with government, civil society and labour to ensure that REI4P continues to positively contribute to job creation, advancing the transformation agenda and attracting new foreign direct investment, much of which will be in the manufacturing sector,” concluded Brenda Martin, CEO of SAWEA.

With targeted support and well-thought-out, consistently implemented procurement policies, the wind power and related renewables eco-system is ready to go for growth.




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