How Renewable Energy Is Quietly Edging Out Coal In South Africa

Written by Staff

By Jeffery Barbee |From The Guardian

The Cookhouse wind farm (in South Africa) is the biggest wind system built in Africa, with 66 turbines generating 138MW of clean power. It started feeding the grid at the end of 2014 and it is far from unique.

Although still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, South Africa has been quietly creating one of the world’s most progressive alternative energy plans. Solar, biomass and wind energy systems are popping up all over the country and feeding clean energy into the strained electrical grid.

“It is set to completely transform these deep rural communities in terms of healthcare, education, job creation and a raft of other interventions. All this while putting green electricity on the grid at affordable prices,” said Johan van den Berg, director of the South African Wind Energy Association.

Like all the projects in the country a percentage of the equity of the Cookhouse wind farm is held by the Cookhouse community trust. The trustees come from the local community and they funnel the profits of 15% of the sale of the energy into health care, education and job creation.

But it is low price for the electricity that is really making the difference. Wind energy from new projects now costs 5 US cents per kWh, roughly half the cost of new coal.

Renewable energy has a long way to go to overtake South Africa’s reliance on coal though. It is number 11 in the world for total CO2 output from energy use and the fifth largest producer of the climate-changing fossil fuel.

Read more at The Guardian