Solar and Wind Energy Developments in South Africa

Northern Cape Landscape (Aloe habitat)

The renewable resource with the greatest potential in South Africa is solar energy. The total area of high radiation in South Africa amounts to approximately 194,000 km2, including the Northern Cape, one of the best solar resource areas in the world. South Africa has average daily solar radiation of between 4.5 and 6.5 kWh per m2. Solar thermal heating is the predominant mode of solar energy utilization in South Africa. The high level of solar radiation enables solar water heating technology to be the least-cost means of meeting the national renewable energy target. The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is embarking on an ambitious programme to roll out 60,000 systems while the City of Cape Town is pioneering a solar water heating by-law to support its strategy to achieve 10 percent penetration of private homes by 2010 and 10 percent of city owned buildings by 2012. Eskom is offering capital subsidies in order to reduce electricity demand by incorporating solar hot water into its demand-side management program in 2007 and planned one million new systems over five years.

Eskom is building a 100MW concentrated solar (CSP) power project in Upington (Northern Cape) with financial assistance from the World Bank. The Clinton Climate Initiative is partnering with the Department of Energy to set up a solar park in the Northern Cape, which will add 5GW to South Africa’s electricity generation. Siemens is also currently conducting a feasibility study on a possible 210 MW CSP plant in the Northern Cape to possibly come online by 2014 and the Industrial Development Corporation is also investigating a CSP demonstration plan. To sum up, there are about 600 MW of CSP projects in different stages of development, with 75 percent of these able to deploy by 2013. In addition, Eskom is constructing a 1,350 MW pumped storage facility to be operational by 2013.

South Africa’s has one of the highest wind potential in the region. The best wind resources are to be found mainly in the in the Western Cape and parts of the Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape. The wind power potential in South Africa is estimated at 80.54 TWh which can be realized with an installed capacity of about 30.6 GW.  At present, there are two operational wind projects in the country – 3.2MW Klipheuwel Wind Energy Demonstration Facility (KWEDF) and 5.2MW Darling Wind Farm. The announcement of the Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff has evoked good interest among IPPs with projects underway accumulate to about 1,100 MW of capacity.

To serve the emerging South African wind market, Vestas established a permanent office in Johannesburg in mid-2009. The opening of the office coincided with the successful commissioning of South Africa’s newest wind turbine at Coega, a 1.8 MW Vestas turbine, in Port Elizabeth. The Coega project has been developed by the Belgian renewable energy firm Electrawinds. The Coega wind farm project will have 25 wind turbines, of 2.3MW each, to produce enough power for 100,000 homes.



Capacity (MW)

Cookhouse ACED (Macquerie)


Flagging Trees ACED (Macquerie)


Hopefield African Infrastructure Investment Fund


Jeffrey’s Bay Mainstream/Genesis EcoEnergy


Brand-se-Baai Exxaro


Tsitsikamma Exxaro, DANIDA, European Energy etc.


Coega IDZ Electrawinds


Port Elizabeth Central Energy Fund


Caledon Wind Farm Caledon Wind


Eastern Cape Wind Project Red Cap Investments


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