Wind power as a long-term energy source
• Wind Power as a Long-Term Energy Source
According to Wind Power in View, a new book by Academic Press, Wind energy is one of the world's fastest growing sources of energy, with the manufacture, installation, and operation of wind turbines now a multi-billion-dollar industry. Literally thousands of new wind turbines are sprouting from fields and backyards across Europe and North America every year. With such explosive growth, questions naturally arise about what they should look like and where they should and should not be installed.
As one of the future energy sources, wind energy is a competitive and attractive alternative to traditional, carbon-based energy sources. As Africa grows and develops, it needs increasing amounts of energy generated from not only environmentally friendly sources but cost effective as well.
Amongst the different reasons favouring wind energy is the fact that it is competitive because it’s free and plentiful. In 2006, a report by Emerging Energy Research showed that land-based wind power is equal in cost to electricity from a new natural gas fired plant, and it is only marginally more expensive than electricity from a new coal-fired power station. In both cases, that is before the costs of CO2 emissions are taken into account.
Broadly, it can meet the world’s energy demands. Wind turbines do not run at full capacity 365 days a year, but neither do conventional energy plants. All factors considered, in countries like Denmark, wind power already meets one-fifth of the population’s total energy needs and Denmark achieved this using less than 20 per cent of its wind resources. On continuously windy days, Denmark actually gets all of its electricity from the country’s 5,000 wind turbines.
Furthermore, since its independent, it knows no limits, nor does it recognize national boundaries. Wind an unlimited form of energy, found freely in countries with even the poorest of natural resources. Wherever it blows, wind can create local jobs to support the local economy – and it can free countries of their dependence on energy from external suppliers. As of May 2009, 80 countries around the world have been using wind power on a commercial basis.
After considering many factors, Vestas the world leader in wind energy, has recently established an office in South Africa that will support business development around the continent and play a role in helping develop the wind energy and renewable industries in the region.
Nearly a decade after installing South Africa’s first turbines for Eskom at Klipheuwel in the Western Cape and years of observing South Africa’s energy needs, Vestas is confident that wind energy can make a substantial and immediate impact, playing a leading role, in helping the country meet its renewable energy targets. For example, a 100 MW wind farm with fifty V90-2MW turbines can provide 9 per cent of South Africa’s current renewable energy targets. And Vestas’ most recent project, a V90-1.8MW turbine that was installed for Electrawinds at Coega in Port Elizabeth, will generate enough power to provide electricity to 2,400 South African families every year.
According to Daniel B. Kurylo, Business Development Manager for Southern Africa, Vestas is committed to providing its experience and knowledge to support the development of renewable energy policy and regulation. It is currently taking a proactive approach to the South African government’s IRP2 planning process by providing feedback and comments on the modelling process.
“Our local presence will definitely create green jobs such as turbine installation technicians, service technicians, sales and administrative staff. And we are dedicated to being directly involved in community development projects near new site construction. Another thing that is very important for future partnerships between Vestas Southern Africa and the community is to have educational scholarships and programs established that develop clear career paths to the industry,” Kurylo explained.
It is predicted that wind will provide at least 10 per cent of the world’s electricity consumption by 2020. This means more countries will be investing in wind power in the nearer future. At present there are over 40,000 Vestas wind turbines around the globe, generating more than 60 million MWh a year, and generating a faster return on investment – the Vestas V90-3.0 MW turbine pays for itself in energy more than 35 times during its lifetime.
Part of Vestas Southern Africa’s immediate commitment to the South African community will not only be to place a strong emphasis on training and developing local partners and sub-contractors but also sharing Vestas’ 30 years of wind energy knowledge and expertise.